The Humane League

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The Humane League (THL) is a nonprofit organization that works to reduce the suffering of farm animals through online advertising, Meatless Monday campaigns, and corporate outreach.[1] It creates reports through the Humane League Labs, which evaluates advocacy presentation and methods and publishes them as reports.[2] One of these reports includes a study showing how distributing leaflets at colleges affects diet change.[3] It was founded in 2005 in Philadelphia.[4]

It has been listed as a top charity by Animal Charity Evaluators since August 2012, with the most updated review in December 2015. The other top recommended charities by ACE are Animal Equality and Mercy for Animals.[1]

Animal Charity Evaluators review

THL has been one of ACE's top recommended charities since ACE's inception in August 2012.[1]

2015 review

ACE published an updated and more detailed review of THL in December 2015. In the review, ACE estimated that for an average $1,000 donation, THL would spend the marginal money as follows:[1]

  • $320 on online ads, leading to 3,000 online video views.
  • $450 on grassroots outreach, resulting in the distribution of about 1,319 leaflets and reaching about 7 students through humane education lectures.
  • $220 campaigning for cage-free egg and Meatless Mondays policies and about $10 on research.

Based on these estimates and their estimates of the efficacy of each of these modes of advocacy, ACE estimated that every dollar donated to THL saved the lives of 13.4 animals, higher than any comparable charity that they had comparably clear data on.[1]

ACE estimated that THL could use $190,000 in funds from ACE-directed donors for the 2015 giving season.

2014 review

In December 2014, Animal Charity Evaluators published its first detailed review of THL. According to the review: "THL’s most impressive accomplishment for us is not through any one of their programs, but through their overall outlook and approach to advocacy. Among animal advocacy organizations, they make exceptionally strong efforts to assess their own programs and to look for and test out ways of improving them. Their success in applying these techniques to their online ads program, and their publication of their research through Humane League Labs, has shifted the outlook and programming of several larger advocacy organizations toward finding the best ways to advocate for animals."[5] On the flip side, ACE raised concerns about THL not valuing transparency highly enough, and justifying local offices simply based on whether they brought as much money as they spent, rather than relative to counterfactual uses of money.

ACE estimated that THL would spend a marginal $1,000 as follows:

  • $540 on online ads, leading to 2,160 online video views.
  • $150 on leafleting, resulting in the distribution of about 1,667 leaflets (Vegan Outreach bears the $400 cost of printing and shipping these leaflets).
  • $120 campaigning for cage-free eggs on college campuses or for Meatless Mondays in K-12 schools.
  • $10 on national corporate campaigns.

ACE recommended moving $50,000 to THL but said they believed the organization was capable of absorbing up to $270,000.[5]


THL's online vegan advocacy ads have been discussed and critiqued on LessWrong[6] and by negative utilitarian Brian Tomasik.[7]

Partly as a result of the Animal Charity Evaluators recommendation, THL has been viewed positively in the effective altruism movement. Raising for Effective Giving lists THL as one of the charities it recommends giving to.[8] The Chronicle of Philanthropy cited an example of an effective altruist who chose to pursue a career in finance so that he could pursue earning to give, donating large sums to The Humane League to help it spend more aggressively in pursuit of its goals.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "The Humane League". Animal Charity Evaluators. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  2. "Humane League Labs". The Humane League. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  3. "Report: Which Leaflet Is More Effective?". The Humane League. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  4. "The Humane League - Our Story". The Humane League. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "December 2014 The Humane League Review". Animal Charity Evaluators. December 1, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  6. Hurford, Peter (June 12, 2013). "Effective Altruism Through Advertising Vegetarianism?". LessWrong. Retrieved December 5, 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  7. Tomasik, Brian (January 28, 2012). "Donating toward Efficient Online Veg Ads". Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  8. "The Humane League". Raising for Effective Giving. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  9. Gose, Ben (November 3, 2013). "A New Donor Movement Seeks to Put Data Ahead of Passion". Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved December 5, 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)