In his latest book, How To Be Great At Doing Good: Why Results Are What Count, and How Smart Charity Can Change The World,
Nick Cooney, Director of Education at the non-profit animal advocacy organization, Mercy for Animals, is offering a “complacency-shattering” guidebook for those who may be well on the path to veganism, and wanting to make a bigger impact with their animal advocacy work.
Cooney is doing a lecture series, including a free lecture and book signing tonight (Tuesday) at plant-based eatery Green Bar & Kitchen.
Mercy for Animals conducts undercover investigations into the abuse of factory farm animals which routinely make national headlines, often resulting in supply changes to major corporations like McDonalds, Costco, Target and Walmart.
As Director of Education there, a large part of Cooney’s work focuses on what drives people’s decisions for change and motivations for charity.
“We humans like to think that we are very rational creatures, and that we make the decisions we make based on thoughtful consideration and reasoning,” says Cooney. “That's rarely the case, with charity or with anything else. Our decisions are heavily influenced by our mental biases, the quirks in our brains that make us, well, human.”
Cooney says that while cutting down on meat consumption and ultimately adopting a plant-based diet may be the biggest thing people can do for factory farm animals immediately, the next step for many people is advocacy and charity work - whether as a volunteer, non-profit staffer or financial backer.
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“I want regular people like you and me to be able to accomplish more good for the world with the limited amount of money or time we have to donate. Everyone one of us has the power to do an incredible amount of good for the world - literally saving lives, and sparing thousands of individuals from a life filled with suffering. But to do that, we need to make smart charity decisions. Unfortunately, we haven't been taught how to do that. We haven't been taught how to think about charity in a rigorous, results-oriented way. I want to help donors, volunteers, and non-profits get more results.”
Though his focus is animal advocacy, Cooney says that the advice and critiques in How to Be Great at Doing Good can be applied to a number of different causes in the non-profit world.
"There are a number of different causes to get involved in to make a positive impact on the world. One of those is indeed working to educate the public on the cruelty of factory farming, and the health and environmental benefits of cutting back on or cutting out meat and other animal products…I'm a good example. I didn't have pets growing up and don't have them now, and I don't consider myself an animal person. But I donate a lot of money toward vegetarian advocacy and farm animal protection efforts, because I know that doing so will spare a huge amount of suffering among smart, intelligent animals who are no different than the cats or dogs many of us have at home.”
Nick Cooney will speak and be available for book signings from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 19, at Green Bar & Kitchen, 1075 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale. The event is free and RSVPs, while not required, are encouraged. Vegan eats will be available for purchase.