Wild Animal Initiative

Wild Animal initiative

Wild Animal Welfare Research and Field Building

Wild Animal Initiative (WAI) works to improve wild animal welfare by expanding the field of wild animal research. By conducting its own research and helping support the needs of other wild animal researchers, the organisation aims to garner public and academic interest in wild animal welfare and identify evidence-based solutions to the struggles wild animals face.

What problem is Wild Animal Initiative working on?

Wild animals vastly outnumber humans. WAI estimates that, for every human, there are at least 1,000 wild vertebrates and at least 100 million land-living arthropods. The organisation believes that “if we can make changes that help even a fraction of these animals, we will have improved the lives of a huge number of individuals.”

What does Wild Animal Initiative do?

WAI’s mission is “to understand and improve the lives of wild animals.” To that end, WAI:

  • Conducts research on wild animal welfare and has developed research priorities for this relatively young field.
  • Facilitates and advances wild animal welfare research by supporting scientists, experts, academics, and funders. This includes partnering with scientists on high-impact research, facilitating networking opportunities for wild animal researchers and providing career advice, issuing grants and connecting researchers to funding sources, and reviewing research proposals for funders.
  • Helps organise an annual Wild Animal Welfare Summit and produces Wildness, a podcast on wild animal welfare.

What information does Giving What We Can have about the cost-effectiveness of Wild Animal Initiative?1.

The impact-focused evaluator Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) has recommended Wild Animal Initiative after conducting an evaluation of their work highlighting its cost-effectiveness. ACE writes: “Wild Animal Initiative’s work to increase knowledge and skills for animal advocacy is highly promising because it focuses on animal groups and interventions that we consider high priority. While we expect all of our evaluated charities to be excellent examples of effective advocacy, Wild Animal Initiative is exceptional even within that group. Giving to Wild Animal Initiative is an excellent opportunity to support initiatives that create the most positive change for animals.”

We looked into ACE as part of our 2023 evaluator investigations, and decided to not currently rely on their charity recommendations. However, we still expect choosing ACE recommended programs to be significantly more impactful than choosing animal welfare programs without an impact-focused evaluation behind them, and we remain open to (some of) ACE's recommendations being among the most cost-effective donation opportunities in animal welfare.

Please note that GWWC does not evaluate individual charities. Our recommendations are based on the research of third-party, impact-focused charity evaluators our research team has found to be particularly well-suited to help donors do the most good per dollar, according to their recent evaluator investigations. Our other supported programs are those that align with our charitable purpose — they are working on a high-impact problem and take a reasonably promising approach (based on publicly-available information).

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation's work -- what the organisation is actually doing and whether their programs are making a big difference. Some others in the charity recommendation space focus instead on the ratio of admin costs to program spending, part of what we’ve termed the “overhead myth.” See why overhead isn’t the full story and learn more about our approach to charity evaluation.