Top Charity: Mercy For Animals

Below is a brief summary of our MFA review. See our full review for more information on how they performed on our criteria.

Mercy For Animals (MFA) advocates for farmed animals by conducting undercover investigations, engaging in corporate and legal outreach, running online vegetarian ads, and organizing grassroots outreach events. In particular, their undercover investigations show promise through the multi-faceted positive benefits stemming from their publication and sharing. MFA’s professional presentation increases the likelihood of their success in all areas, and they test different arrangements of their materials to maximize impact. They show a willingness to change based on new evidence, and are continually refining their strategic approach in accordance with what seems most successful and cost-effective. We are proud to recognize MFA as one of our top charities.

MFA is working to centralize their efforts, reducing the number of offices they have around the country and instead focusing more on investigations and online advocacy. Given their success and increased presence in advocacy, this move makes sense to us as a way to minimize costs and maximize impact.

We find MFA to be an exceptional organization, and are happy to recommend them as one of our top charities. For more information, see our full report.

Why do we recommend them?

Overall, we find MFA to be an exceptionally strong organization because of their demonstrated willingness to adjust their programming to seek maximum effectiveness and because of the range of programs they have undertaken with good results. We think their undercover investigations and related corporate and legal campaigns are particularly promising approaches, and that they are using funding for online ad campaigns effectively. We are pleased to recommend donating to them.

How much money could they use?

We think MFA could use up to $300,000 in funding from ACE this year, which they could use to expand their online ads program as well as programs such as non-U.S. investigations and their new project, the Good Food Institute. We think they might also create new programs, as they did this past year, to spend more funding. We expect them to continue adapting to new evidence, dropping programs that aren’t working well and expanding those with room for effective expansion.

MFA Pie Chart

MFA Budget Allocation (2014)

Overall, we find MFA to be an exceptionally strong organization because of their demonstrated willingness to adjust their programming to seek maximum effectiveness and because of the range of programs they have undertaken with good results. We think their undercover investigations and related corporate and legal campaigns are particularly promising approaches. We are pleased to recommend donating to them.1

What do you get for your donation?

From an average donation of $1,000, MFA would use about $310 towards undercover investigations, funding a tiny part of an investigation but on average reaching about 10,760,000 viewers, including media views.2 They would spend about $310 on online outreach, including online ads, leading to around 4,200 views of factory farming videos. They would spend about $100 on grassroots educational outreach, including handing out about 440 leaflets. While these three areas account for most of MFA’s program budget, they would also spend about $80 on social media outreach to their followers on various networks, $80 on corporate outreach, and $80 on legal advocacy not directly related to undercover investigations. They would also spend about $30 on their new innovations program. Our rough estimate is that these combined activities would have impact equivalent to sparing about 14,000 animals from life in industrial agriculture.


  1. We recommend unrestricted donations to MFA, as we are not so confident that funds in one area will be used substantially more effectively than in other areas as to recommend restricting donations. 

  2. We have substantial uncertainty about the number of media views as given by the media outlets themselves or media reporting services. If these numbers were perfectly accurate, it would suggest a reach comparable to half the US population viewing media reports of MFA’s investigations 250 times each, which seems implausible. However, we do think the media viewership of MFA’s investigations is a substantial impact of their work.