Animal Advocacy Careers (AAC) is an organisation that seeks to address the career and talent bottlenecks in the animal advocacy movement, especially the farmed animal movement. We were founded in late 2019, with support from Charity Entrepreneurship. You can see last year’s “2021 Plans and 2020 Review” here.
In 2021, our primary goal was to learn about which services will be most cost-effective for us to run in future years in order to help animals.
As part of our learning process, we had committed to try out at least one service type that we had not yet tested and to offer an improved version of at least one service that was trialled in 2020. We successfully met these targets, as shown in the table below, which also lists some indicators that our work has already begun to have positive impacts for animals:
The above table does not represent all of AAC’s working hours. In addition, the following were also important tasks that we worked on:
Services to be offered
As with last year, we used stakeholder surveys, cost-effectiveness analyses, and spreadsheets with subjective scores on various criteria in order to decide which services to focus our efforts on.
Based on this, we have chosen to work on one brand new service from early 2022: a work placement programme, supporting and encouraging highly promising candidates to enter careers in effective animal advocacy nonprofits. We will focus first on offering this service specifically for fundraising roles, because our recent research has confirmed our previous finding that nonprofits find it especially difficult to hire high-quality candidates for this type of work. (This research also confirmed the difficulties in hiring for senior leadership positions, but these do not seem as well-suited to a work placement programme.)
We intend to continue with most of the services we offered in 2021:
After some initial experimentation with several varieties of recruitment support, we believe we are now well-positioned to double down on the sort of work that we are most optimistic about. That is essentially more traditional recruiting work, building up a database of promising candidates (via various outreach methods) and supporting them to apply for roles that seem like a good fit. Our Recruitment Specialist will focus on this in 2022, with some support from other team members. We will focus on fundraising and senior leadership roles. We are quite optimistic about this work because of her initial success in a relatively short period of time after joining and some continued success in early 2022.
The online course, job board, and skilled volunteering board can all be maintained and updated at relatively low cost (both financially and in terms of organisational time). We expect our new Marketing Manager to spend a substantial fraction of their time in 2022 seeking to grow the number of participants in these services but do not otherwise expect to make major changes to them.
One-to-one careers advice calls are quite time intensive, but we plan to offer them to select individuals on an ad hoc basis, when we have reason to think that a call might be unusually impactful. We may experiment with some additional models of advising that might be unusually cost-effective, such as reaching out to especially promising-seeming individuals via LinkedIn.
However, we have decided to wind down our management and leadership training service:
We do not have (and do not expect to be able to easily develop) the expertise to be able to cost-effectively provide this training ourselves.
We found it very difficult to reliably evaluate the quality of external training providers. One nonprofit that we partnered with was dissatisfied with their training.
More generally, we worry that we are not adding much value to the process. If they are interested in receiving management and leadership training, effective animal advocacy nonprofits may be better placed to evaluate their own needs and identify a provider that is a good match for them.
We have noticed several organisations stepping in to offer training services to the effective animal advocacy community, e.g. LEAD for Farmed Animals and, potentially in the future, Training for Good.
Despite winding down AAC’s training service, we continue to be optimistic about the effectiveness of management and leadership training. Indeed, our cost-effectiveness analysis of the training service suggested slightly more promise than any of the other services we evaluated (although such analyses necessarily make a number of simplifying assumptions that mean the exact final results should not be taken too literally).
So we strongly encourage effective animal advocacy nonprofits to consider organising management and leadership training for their staff. Please feel free to reach out to AAC if you are intending to run such a training and have questions about our learnings from the process.
Priorities and goals
In 2022, AAC will have three big-picture priorities, each of which will be explained in more detail below:
Attract and direct promising individuals towards high-impact career opportunities in the animal advocacy movement
Support promising individuals to evaluate, explore, and prepare for high-impact career paths in the animal advocacy movement
Develop AAC’s organisational infrastructure and culture, so that we provide a platform for all our staff to maximise their impact for animals, learn, and grow
These general priorities are mostly a clarification and formalisation of what AAC has already been striving towards.
Priority 1: Attract and direct promising individuals towards high-impact career opportunities in the animal advocacy movement
Although the services that we offer tend to have somewhat different primary paths to impact, most of them share at least one common goal: helping to land promising candidates into roles in effective animal advocacy organisations.
Priority 1 is therefore focused on supporting effective animal advocacy organisations to carry out their work to a high standard by helping them to hire promising individuals who add value above and beyond the next best candidates for roles.
Sometimes, this is quite direct, such as when recruiting for a specific role; we might encourage someone to apply and then they land the job. At other times, the route is less direct, such as with our online course and one-to-one calls; we might help individuals to plan for how they can help animals through their career and in doing so increase the likelihood that they later apply for a role where they are the top candidate.
We have therefore set goals for our work in 2022 based on a metric we have created called “Importance- and Counterfactuals-Adjusted Placements” (ICAPs). Or, more specifically, ICAPs per full-time equivalent (FTE) years of work by AAC staff. We explain how we calculate ICAPs per FTE year in a separate appendix to this post.
ICAPs are a simplified metric that does not fully account for all indirect effects, uncertainties, and so on. However, its interpretation seems fairly intuitive: one ICAP roughly equals the impact of AAC causing a top candidate to materialise out of nowhere and secure an average role in an effective animal advocacy nonprofit. We therefore expect them to be helpful for enabling a ballpark comparison of the effectiveness of our different services via this particular path to impact. ICAPs will not be taken at face value, in isolation; we will use them in conjunction with qualitative discussions that enable us to consider the pros and cons of each service that are not well-represented by the ICAPs metric.
The following table lists our goals for 2022 relating to this priority:
This would lead to about 20 ICAPs total, if we multiply our “ambitious targets” by the amount of FTE time that we expect to spend on each service. We expect to spend a total of roughly 3.25 FTE years of AAC staff work in 2022, once we also account for time spent on operations and other organisational tasks; so our ambitious target is around 6 ICAPs per FTE year of work overall.
Priority 2: Support promising individuals to evaluate, explore, and prepare for high-impact career paths in the animal advocacy movement
“Personal fit” and “comparative advantage” are important considerations for impact-focused career strategy, affecting how much an individual is able to help animals. Priority 2 focuses more on supporting individuals to maximise their positive impact for animals by helping them to work out which types of work they are best suited to.
In practice, services that support individuals to evaluate and explore high-impact career paths also help them to prepare for full-time work in those paths. For example, volunteering their professional marketing expertise to an effective animal advocacy nonprofit would not only help someone to understand whether they had good personal fit with that type of work, but would also provide additional experience, ideas, and connections that might help them to excel in their first relevant paid role.
In addition to helping individuals, priority 2 also helps effective animal advocacy organisations to achieve their goals, since it indirectly increases the quality of applicants to paid roles and may lead to other benefits such as additional donations or higher quality external pro bono support.
Our recruiting service feeds almost exclusively into priority 1 and our skilled volunteering service feeds almost exclusively into priority 2, while our other services (online course, one-to-one careers advice calls, job board, fundraising work placement) feed into both.
Our goals for 2022 relating to this priority are to:
Have 15 individuals perform tasks for participating organisations via our skilled volunteering board.
Have 113 individuals complete 90% or more of the online course and get a score of 20 or more out of 30 on the test.
Have 8 individuals complete a fundraising work placement via our service.
The wording of priority 2 is intentionally more vague than priority 1 in order to enable us to account for the differing paths to impact (and opportunities for evaluation) of the different services. Hence, we do not intend to use a single metric that is directly comparable across the different services to evaluate our progress on this priority. We will supplement these quantitative goals about participation numbers with more qualitative discussion about various indicators of the success, room for improvement, or failure of each service.
Priority 3: Develop AAC’s organisational infrastructure and culture, so that we provide a platform for all our staff to maximise their impact for animals, learn, and grow
Although we didn’t specify it as a key priority in our 2021 plans post, establishing AAC as a registered 501(c)(3) and establishing our infrastructure so that we can operate independently ended up being an extremely time-consuming endeavour. Much of the work was completed in 2021, but we expect to need to continue at least some such work in 2022.
Additionally, AAC’s team grew in 2021, and we are currently in the process of hiring a fifth team member. It is important that we set up and maintain an infrastructure and culture that empowers staff to contribute towards AAC’s other, more directly programmatic goals and priorities. This includes a variety of ongoing operational, financial, and administrative tasks.
Of course, spending time on AAC work diverts our team from working on other activities that might help animals or otherwise do good, so we must ensure that AAC’s strategies and services are sufficiently well-planned and implemented that their efforts are not in vain. Additionally, regardless of whether our team members remain at AAC for many years or later leave to pursue other altruistic work, it is important that we provide a supportive environment that enables them to develop relevant career capital.
Our goals for 2022 relating to this priority are to:
Receive enough donations in 2022 from donors or grant-makers who have not previously donated to AAC to cover 25% of our budget for 2023.
(Qualitative) make AAC a motivating and satisfying place to work, where all staff have training and support to grow.
Regarding the last goal, we intend to make sure that we are supporting our staff to continuously improve, through regular two-way feedback, performance discussion, pro-actively suggesting training, and reviewing our wages, bonuses and benefit systems. We will begin to conduct annual staff surveys so that we can track changes year to year.
Longer term, AAC is aiming to identify a single flagship service that we will focus most of our resources on. The introduction of the ICAPs metric is intended as a step towards that longer-term vision, enabling us to more easily compare between the services. This flagship service will ideally be both cost-effective (i.e. has high impact for animals for the resources invested) and scalable (e.g. fills a user need, has growth potential). All of the services that we’re investing in this year (except for skilled volunteering) seem like plausible candidates to be our flagship service in the future, with the recruitment service and online course seeming the most likely options.
However, we expect that we will continue to offer some other supplementary services that feed into the marketing funnel of the flagship service. For example:
Even if the job board does not directly cause any ICAPs, it is likely worth still investing some time into, in order to attract people to our website.
Advising, the online course, and the fundraising work placement service could all plausibly contribute to identifying promising candidates for our recruitment service.
The advising or recruitment services could serve as an incentive for signing up to the online course if they are offered exclusively to participants.
How to contribute
Encourage connections to join our LinkedIn group, especially if they have experience related to fundraising (e.g. sales) or senior management and might be interested in work that helps animals.
Donate to AAC — we are fully run through philanthropic donations and, as noted above, aiming to build a more sustainable funding model this year.
Thank you for your interest in helping animals and AAC’s work specifically.