Charity Reports

The Albert Schweitzer Foundation

Published on
2020-11-03
Written by
Stephen Clare
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This funding opportunity was recommended by our advisory committee of staff and a few members from Farmed Animal Funders. For more information please see our Animal Welfare Cause Report.

The Albert Schweitzer Foundation is a highly-effective animal advocacy charity based in Germany. They bring legal cases against agricultural companies to improve corporate practices, with a particular emphasis on neglected causes within the animal welfare movement.

What problem are they trying to solve?

More than 60 billion farm animals are slaughtered every year.1 Inadequate welfare requirements and legal protections mean that the overwhelming majority of these animals suffer greatly, living their entire lives in crowded, uncomfortable, unhealthy conditions.2 While recent progress on these issues in Europe is promising, welfare standards in some sectors are still very low. The Albert Schweitzer Foundation works to raise standards in Germany and Poland and contributes to campaigns that seek to affect policies across the European Union.

What do they do?

The Albert Schweitzer Foundation organises campaigns to get companies and governments to adopt higher welfare standards for farm animals. Notable past wins to which ASF contributed in Germany include reducing the prevalence of battery cages for egg-laying hens,3 banning the practice of “beak-searing”,4 and banning male chick culling.5 More recently, the organisation has turned its attention to broiler chicken welfare and has been campaigning for widespread adoption of the “European Chicken Commitment” throughout Germany.6

Why do we recommend them?

  • Our advisory committee of staff and some members from Farmed Animal Funders recommends the Albert Schweitzer Foundation as one of the most cost-effective animal advocacy organisations in the world.
  • ASF runs corporate and legal campaigns, which have proven highly cost-effective in the past, and has had several notable successes
  • ASF also focuses on improving conditions for chickens and fish. Since members of these species are particularly abundant and seem to suffer greatly, we see them as a high priority for animal welfare advocates.

We believe that ASF is a transparent7 and impact-focused organisation. Their Strategic Plan specifically mentions that the organisation looks for opportunities “that are covered relatively little or with only limited success by the [animal welfare] movement”.8 That is to say, ASF seeks to maximize its impact by targeting important issues in animal welfare that are neglected by other organisations. One example of this is the organisation’s recent work on fish welfare.9 Fish are hardly the first animal that comes to mind when most people think about animal welfare issues. However, the scale of fish farming is truly enormous, with up to 140 billion fish in fish farms at any one time.10 While the average wellbeing of these animals is highly uncertain, some advocates believe that there is an opportunity for large welfare gains in this space.11

ASF has received at least $1.6 million in funding from the Open Philanthropy Project.12 Since Open Philanthropy is a leading grantmaker in the animal welfare space, this increases our confidence that ASF is a reliable bet for Founders Pledge members interested in animal welfare. Open Philanthropy’s reasons for supporting ASF included “the organization’s track record securing cage-free pledges from major German retailers; [...] leadership team; and the organization’s strategic alignment with [their] goal to build a stronger farm animal welfare movement in Europe.”13 (Disclaimer: Founders Pledge has also received funding from Open Philanthropy.)

Why do we trust this organization?

This recommendation is made on the advice of our advisory committee of staff and a few members from Farmed Animal Funders. FAF is a donor learning community and philanthropic advisory organisation specifically focused on bringing an end to intensive animal farming. Animal welfare interventions are generally less well-studied and more difficult to evaluate than interventions in other cause areas. Many of the best opportunities are also likely to be country-specific. FAF’s team is dedicated to finding these opportunities, and maximizing impact is a core organisational value. The members of our advisory committee are highly value-aligned with Founder's Pledge, and we are fortunate to be able to rely on their expertise in this space.

What would they do with more funding?

With additional funding, we expect ASF to hire additional staff to support their corporate campaigns, including technical staff such as experts and lawyers. ASF’s annual budget is between $1.7 million and $2.4 million per year, and the organisation currently has about one year of financial runway. Given this, we are uncertain about ASF’s ability to productively use large donations in 2021. We think it is safe to assume ASF could absorb up to €400,000, or about 20% of its current annual budget, at this time.

Message from the organization

"I'm thankful for this review - it's great to receive recognition for our accomplishments, current work, and overall strategy! We are currently taking steps to expand our work which should open up good funding opportunities in the not so distant future. We're excited to work with Founders Pledge members to eliminate cruel farming practices in Europe for good."

-Mahi Klosterhalfen, CEO & President

More resources

A list of ASF’s campaigns is available here.

Disclaimer: We do not have a reciprocal relationship with any organisation, and recommendations are subject to change based on our ongoing research.

Notes


  1. FAO data cited in Hannah Ritchie, "Meat and Dairy Production", 2017, https://ourworldindata.org/meat-production. Accessed 1 October 2020.  

  2. For more information, please refer to our full Cause Summary on animal welfare.  

  3. “Ending the use of battery cages”, Albert Schweitzer Foundation, https://albertschweitzerfoundation.org/campaigns/ending-use-battery-cages. Accessed 1 October 2020.  

  4. “Ending beak searing”, Albert Schweitzer Foundation, https://albertschweitzerfoundation.org/campaigns/ending-beak-searing. Accessed 1 October 2020.  

  5. “Ruling on chick culling”, Albert Schweitzer Foundation, https://albertschweitzerfoundation.org/news/ruling-chick-culling. Accessed 1 October 2020.  

  6. “European Chicken Commitment”, Albert Schweitzer Foundation, https://albertschweitzerfoundation.org/campaigns/european-chicken-commitment. Accessed 1 October 2020  

  7. “Transparency”, Albert Schweitzer Foundation, https://albertschweitzerfoundation.org/about-us/transparency. Accessed 1 October 2020  

  8. Personal communication from ASF, September 2020  

  9. “Animal Welfare Standards in Aquacultures”, Albert Schweitzer Foundation, 9 July 2019, https://albertschweitzerfoundation.org/news/animal-welfare-standards-aquacultures. Accessed 1 October 2020  

  10. Lewis Bollard. “Ending Factory Farming”, EA Global: San Francisco (Talk), 9 October 2018, https://www.effectivealtruism.org/articles/ea-global-2018-ending-factory-farming/  

  11. “the method of killing fish, both farmed fish and wild caught fish globally, is truly barbaric. So these fish were hauled out of the water. Many of them were crushed to death underneath each other. Some of the other ones were live disemboweled, and the ones that weren't suffocated over the course of several hours [...] And I think the thing which is most striking with this particular welfare issue is how simply it could be solved” (Bollard, “Ending Factory Farming”)  

  12. “Albert Schweitzer Foundation — General Support (2019)”, Open Philanthropy, https://www.openphilanthropy.org/focus/us-policy/farm-animal-welfare/albert-schweitzer-foundation-general-support-2019  

  13. “Albert Schweitzer Foundation — General Support ”, Open Philanthropy, October 2017, https://www.openphilanthropy.org/focus/us-policy/farm-animal-welfare/albert-schweitzer-foundation-general-support-2017  href="#fnref13" rev="footnote">↩

Stephen Clare

Author

Stephen joined Founders Pledge in 2019. Previously he was a Program Analyst for the United Nations Development Programme in Rwanda. He has also worked on climate change projects with the UN in Panama and the Youth Climate Lab in Canada. Stephen has an M.Sc. from McGill University and a B.Arts.Sci. from McMaster University.