HELP IMPROVE THE LIVES OF BILLIONS OF FISH
We work to improve the lives of farmed fish by identifying high-impact welfare improvements and then implementing them through government, corporate, and farmer partners—with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of billions of fish. Your support is a fundamental part of achieving that impact.
To learn more, see our FAQ.
HOW TO DONATE
For donations of $1,000 or more, or to make a tax-deductible donation in the UK, India, or the Netherlands, see below.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is your current funding gap?
Our current funding gap for our 2023 budget is now filled. Thank you all who donated!
Additional donations now will support our 2024 work. We expect to publish plans and a formal budget for that between August and December 2023.
Note that while we are still accepting donations now, we generally prefer to first have a formal plan and budget that all money we fundraise fits into. For this reason, we recommend that people interested in making larger gifts to FWI consider supporting other organizations in the meantime, or consider waiting until we have published our 2024 plans and budget before supporting FWI. It’s important for us that our donors can see very clearly how exactly their money will be used.
How does FWI spend its money?
This year, FWI’s spending breakdown is roughly the following:
~80% to support fish welfare work in India
~15% to support early-stage fish welfare work in China
~5% to support other non-country-specific programming and operations.
In both India and China, our work is still in a program development stage (i.e. more on the explore side of the explore/exploit tradeoff, though with our India programming being much further along than its Chinese counterpart). This means that while your donation today still supports immediate impact for fish, it mainly enables the development of our theory of change such that we can help fish at a much greater scale later. Specifically, we’re heavily investing right now in setting an improved welfare standard and refining our Alliance For Responsible Aquaculture.
In India, we hope and expect to transition most of our resources toward scaling up in the next 1–2 years. The scaleup mechanism we believe most promising right now is continuing our direct farmer work, as discussed in this post.
Our China work operates on longer time horizons, though given the enormous potential for impact in China (it accounts for roughly half of all farmed fish in the world), we think our programming there is still cost-effective, if less certain. You can learn more about our China work and future plans here.
You can see the specific outcomes you would likely enable by supporting our work in our 2023 Objectives and Key Results (see how we did with our 2022 and 2021 OKRs for comparison). Other useful documents may be found on our transparency page.
Who else has supported Fish Welfare Initiative?
As of December 2022, FWI has been the recipient of 5 grants from the Effective Altruism Funds as well as hundreds of donations from individuals like you. In September 2022, FWI was awarded a $250,000 2-year grant from Open Philanthropy. We were also especially honored to be the recipient of part of the $1 million Berggruen Prize that ethicist Peter Singer received and subsequently gave away; Singer’s ideas inspired FWI’s work perhaps more than those of any other individual. Additionally, as of 2022 FWI is proud to be recommended by Animal Charity Evaluators as a Standout Charity.
How cost-effective is a donation to Fish Welfare Initiative?
Since our launch in 2019, as of December 2022 we have in total spent $882,000, and we believe we have directly improved the lives of about 1.14 million fish. That’s currently in the order of magnitude of 1 fish helped per dollar. To learn more about how we calculated this figure, see Our Impact.
While we think cost-effectiveness is an important factor that should be considered when evaluating the promise of an organization, we’d like to highlight some caveats:
We are not certain the magnitude of which we have helped these fish. This is in fact one of our key uncertainties, and we currently believe that our Version 1 Welfare Standard is not as impactful as we would like it to be. For this reason, we are currently developing our Version 2 standard, which is designed to help fish at a greater magnitude per animal.
We hope and expect our cost-effectiveness to be much higher once we scale up. Currently, most of our resources are going into exploring and testing, not scaling.
Organizations can bring many values that are not reflected in cost-effectiveness estimates. For instance, we think one of the significant, less tangible values in our work is the precedent for fish welfare in aquaculture that it sets—see more on this below.
Outside of impact and cost-effectiveness, what are the best arguments for donating to FWI?
Donors may also be interested in supporting FWI for the following reasons:
Setting a precedent: We are one of the first organizations to work to improve fish welfare, and one of the first organizations to engage Indian corporations and policymakers on this issue. We are also the first organization to secure a corporate commitment for fish in India. We believe that the work we do lays the foundation for significant future impact to come after.
Tackling some of the animal movement’s hardest questions: If we are ever going to reach a more humane world, how best to improve the welfare of understudied species farmed en masse in Asia (such as Indian major carp, whom we work with) is a question that must be answered. FWI is amongst the only organizations answering it.
Building a movement in Asia: Almost 90% of fish, as well as the majority of terrestrial animals, are farmed in Asia. We thus believe it is critical to launch locally led movements in Asian countries to address the suffering facing these animals, and to expand the animal movement by bringing in new people. We are proud to have hired a local team in India as well as contractors in China and the Philippines. We are also proud that most of these people did not work in animal protection previously, and are now more likely to have careers helping animals even after they leave FWI.
What are the best arguments against donating to FWI?
You made it this far, so we’re assuming you already believe that fishes have significant moral value (if not, see Brown 2014). Putting this objection aside, we think the following are the best arguments against donating to FWI:
Lack of prior precedent: There is very little precedent for our work, especially compared to something like cage-free campaigns for chickens. Few organizations have done fish welfare work previously, and even fewer in a middle-income country like India. This lack of precedent is for a reason—fish work, particularly in contexts like India, is hard. There are rarely easy answers or obvious welfare improvements in this field, and before recommending changes usually an extensive research process must be undertaken. For those who subscribe to the INT framework, FWI’s weakest argument is definitely that of tractability.
Lack of experience: Our leadership team has relatively less experience than that of most of our peer organizations.
Possibly inadequate welfare standards: Our current welfare standards, while theoretically promising, are not proving as impactful in the field as we would like them to be (though we have only been implementing and measuring them since June 2021). For instance, the stocking density reductions our partner farmers are making in the ARA do not currently appear to be having a significant impact on water quality, likely because they are too small (on average, our partner farmers reduce their stocking densities by 1–8%). Improving our welfare standards has been one of our main priorities for 2022, and it will continue to be so for 2023.
Possibly supporting industry intensification: It is possible that by supporting farmers in addressing water quality and disease issues, we enable more farmers to get into the business and/or to make their farmers more intensive. (Note that our team has considered this issue in medium depth and do not find it particularly compelling right now, in part because our stocking density caps are designed to prevent intensification. However, we believe it is still a reasonable concern one can have. To learn more about our thoughts here, contact us.)
Unclear scaleup mechanism: Our current avenue of helping fish (our farmer work) is not sufficiently cost-effective to scale, so we are still working to refine our programming such that it is more cost-effective. We hope and expect to get there, but unfortunately much uncertainty remains.
We are working hard to resolve these and the other challenges we face. However, given them and the general uncertainty that we face, for the next 1–2 years, we believe that FWI is best thought of as a higher-risk, higher-reward donation opportunity.
Why would producers want to transition to higher welfare practices?
There are a couple factors that lead producers to want to transition:
Free water-quality monitoring: We provide free-of-cost water-quality monitoring to participating farmers in our Alliance For Responsible Aquaculture.
Economic benefit: The practices we are recommending (improved water quality and stocking densities) have some benefits for farmers: Farmers understand better than anyone that improved water quality leads to fewer diseases and lower mortality rates. We believe that stocking density reductions lead to a more stable operation for farmers: fewer fish, feed, and antimicrobials are needed (lowering expenses), less labor is needed, and farms are less likely to experience catastrophic disease outbreaks and die-offs, thus mitigating two issues that currently plague Indian aquaculture.
Supportive field staff: Our ground team live and work in the same or nearby communities as the farmers, and build up trust with them. Some of our staff are from the same communities as the farmers. Our team is oftentimes the only support these farmers receive.
Pride in doing the right thing: Our experience has shown us that Indian farmers take a great deal of pride in their position as those who feed the country, and are held in high regard by Indian society. Many thus take pride in doing the right thing for animals and for society, and are interested in adopting best practices.
Corporate procurement: We’re currently working to establish market linkages such that corporations procure from farmers. This would incentivize farmers to transition practices, either because of the price premium corporations may pay for fish welfare or the stability of purchasing corporations bring.
Government incentives: Over the next few years, we hope to create government incentives (e.g., insurance subsidies) for farmers to transition to higher welfare practices.
Improve the lives of billions of fish? Is that even possible?
We dream big, but yes, we certainly think so. This is partly a testament to the vast scope of aquaculture: smaller farms hold thousands of fish, while the largest ones hold over a million. Therefore, with fish, even working at just the farm level means that you can impact the lives of a massive number of individuals. Going further, partnering with institutions such as corporations and NGOs allows us to impact a massive number of farms, each with thousands or more fish (analogously, see the impact of cage-free corporate advocacy for chickens). Over the next 5–10 years, we hope and expect to surpass over a billion fish helped by scaling across India and across other regions of Asia.
Is FWI a registered charity?
Yes, we have registered organizations in both the US and India.
In the US, Fish Welfare Initiative is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (#85-2065536). Your donation is tax-deductible in the US to the extent allowable by law.
In India, Fish Welfare Initiative India Foundation is registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act. Your donation is also tax-deductible in India to the extent allowable by law.
I would like to make a tax-deductible donation in a country that is not the US. How do I do that?
Currently, donations to Fish Welfare Initiative may only be tax-deductible in the US, UK, the Netherlands, and India. For your donation to be tax-deductible in the UK or the Netherlands, you will need to donate through the Giving What We Can.
To make a donation from India, contact us. As they allow us to save in admin fees from moving money overseas, donations from Indian citizens are particularly appreciated!
I donated to FWI during a donation match period. Was my donation matched?
FWI's latest donation match ran between December 16 and 31, 2022, and included up to $10,000 in matching funds. Matching funds ran out on December 24th—all donations received between December 16 and December 23rd were matched 100%; all donations received on December 24th were matched either 100% or partially; and all donations received after December 24th were not matched. The match applies to all mediums through which people donate to FWI, including our website donation page, via the EA Funds, direct bank deposits, and cash donations.
FWI only partakes in true matches. This means that any money left over at the conclusion of the matching period will not be given to FWI.
I’m interested in making a donation of $1,000 or more to FWI. What should I do?
You should email us so that we can ensure that FWI is a good organizational fit for you and that if so, you make your donation via the most efficient avenue. This is in part to avoid the processing fees (~4% if done via our website) of our donation processing platform.
I would like to mail a check. How should I do that?
Checks should be mailed to the following address:
Fish Welfare Initiative
3123 Butterfly Dr
Normal, IL 61761
Which other organizations should I support?
Our team members are proud to support the work of ACE-recommended and GiveWell-recommended organizations, and we encourage you to do the same. Other organizations that our team members individually support include Family Empowerment Media, Development Media International, Lead Exposure Elimination Project, GiveDirectly, and Clean Energy Innovation program. We believe in the impact of these organizations and aim to replicate their successes.
I have another question not discussed here, or would like more information.
Then you should contact us. We’re very happy to chat candidly about the pros and cons of a donation to Fish Welfare Initiative.