Many people want to help animals in some way, but don't work professionally in a field relevant to animal advocacy and don't have extra money to donate. One thing that people in this position can do is volunteer for an animal advocacy group. However, just as it's extremely important to consider which organizations you might support financially, it is equally important to consider which organizations you should volunteer to help. In general, we recommend volunteering for farmed animal charities, as this area involve the greatest opportunity to make the biggest difference for animals. More specifically, we recommend looking at opportunities for volunteering with our top charities; additionally, ACE regularly needs research and communications interns.
Volunteer with Our Top Charities
Volunteering for Animals
When considering where to invest your time as an animal advocate, it's important to consider all options. Just as with your donations, it's possible to be substantially more effective with some activities than with others. Based on research into effective advocacy, we provide some general advice on increasing your productivity as a volunteer; for more information on paid opportunities, visit our career advice.
Currently, we don't have a great deal of reliable data on the effectiveness of individual efforts - that's why we are investing time and resources in evaluating interventions. However, we are able to draw some general conclusions about which activities are most likely to produce the greatest gains for animals.
When investigating potential ways to help animals, you must first determine what types of animals you want to help. A wide variety of animals need our help, including (but not restricted to): companion animals, wild animals (injured/orphaned or endangered), animals used in entertainment, animals used in research, and farmed animals.
We've considered these different areas when choosing our top charities; you can find additional information on our stance in our position statement, where we explain that we make our recommendations based on our philosophy of giving equal consideration to animals regardless of species. We believe that farmed animal advocacy offers the largest potential gains for animals, and we base our charity and volunteering recommendations on this conclusion. There are many reasons for this decision; an important factor can be seen in this chart comparing the number of animals used in the United States to the distribution of donations to various animals. More details can be found on our volunteering for farmed animals page.
Learn more about how many animals you can help through different animal advocacy causes by following the links below.
You can also see how the estimate for each of those areas compares to the effectiveness of helping farmed animals through leafleting.
You can also take steps to promote discussion by writing on interesting and relevant topics for helping animals effectively. Publicly promoting ACE research or information about our top charities through social media, blogs, editorials, or letters to the editor can expand our reach considerably. These writings can be even more effective by tailoring them to areas where you may have a comparative advantage and can thus write intelligently.
Apart from original writings, you can also simply share our content on social media and make comments on our FB page or on our blog. Even something as quick as "This was very helpful because" or "This was confusing because" can be helpful. This provides several benefits; not only does it help inform us about how our message is being received, giving us an opportunity to improve, but comments and shares help drive the visibility of important materials on platforms like Facebook due to their algorithms for what shows up in people's news feeds.
While we recommend volunteering for farmed animals to create the greatest impact, it is important to consider that there's a maximum amount of time that you can dedicate to those efforts and still maintain your own health and happiness. If you surrender all of your volunteering time to farmed animal advocacy, it is possible that you will develop compassion fatigue and become inefficient in your work. Thus an optimal amount of time for you may not be 100%, but certainly more than most people currently give.
Many people gain personal pleasure from volunteering and giving to charities with which they have a personal connection. Some tactics may not help what we consider the most effective cause, but may in some way recharge your batteries. Thus, we don’t consider it “wrong” to spend some time engaged in activities like volunteering at your local animal shelter. That time could help develop your connection with animals on a personal level and encourage further contributions to more effective areas like farmed animal advocacy. However, those things are likely more important in making you feel good, and ensuring your sustainability as an advocate, rather than in doing the most good for animals.
It is commendable to take the step of actively reaching out to volunteer for animals. However, as there are so many animals in need of help, it's important to carefully consider how your actions can be most effective.
We believe that farmed animal causes offer the greatest potential gains per hour spent, and we specifically recommend leafleting for its ease, convenience, and high potential impact. However, farmed animal groups could use assistance in many ways, and it’s important to consider your own specialized skills and how they could uniquely positively impact an organization.