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Heifer Project International, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Agricultural Programs, Animal-Related, Animals, Food, International, International Agricultural Development, International Relief

Mission:

Heifer International''s mission is to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth using gifts of livestock, seeds, trees and training in sustainable agriculture community development projects to help millions of people become self-reliant. Since 1944, Heifer has helped transform the lives of more than 13 million families (70 million people) by giving them gifts of cows, goats and other livestock. Along with the animals, families receive training in animal care and conservation for environmentally sound agricultural development. There is also training in community development, gender equity, sharing and caring, strategic planning and other subjects as needed, including literacy. The process takes several years and is not declared successful until the community shows sustained improvement in nutrition, income and self-reliance. Each family that receives an animal agrees to Pass on the Gift by sharing the first-born female offspring of their animal with another family in need, so each gift of livestock starts a chain of self-reliance that spreads throughout  entire communities.

Programs: The Farmer Organizations Growing Hope project will support 550 families

Community Stories

46 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 3

I have donated to Heifer for years because I like the idea that they do not give a "hand OUT," but instead a "hand UP" by providing people willing to work hard with the resources they need to be self-sustaining. Being a lifetime city dweller (in Saint Louis, Missouri), I cannot imagine how hard it is for small-scale farmers to make a decent living for their families, yet many seek out the extra work that the animals and training Heifer provides requires so that they can do even better! Once a family is helped, they learn to practice charity themselves by "Passing on the Gift" they've received from Heifer by giving another family one of their Heifer animal's offspring and help in training the new family. All that said, I DO feel that Heifer is too frequent with their appeals. I will receive a "thank you" letter for a gift and (besides asking for another gift at the bottom of that letter) often within a week will get ANOTHER solicitation. I enjoy getting their quarterly World Ark magazine, but they should fine tune their mailing list to only send the gift catalog to people who actually "order" animals from it.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a donor for over ten years. Unlike the comments from many, I an not inundated with donation requests. I think this happens more with new donors. Also, their expenses are less than many international groups, currently running at less than 25 percent. They also fund capital expenses, such as buildings, in separate and specific fund drives. They are neither religious or political, and their programs do what they say they will. Most importantly, they work with the people they help to make lasting changes. Their recipients must earn the help and put in their own efforts and sweat equity to make the programs run. Also, great care is taken to make sure the animals provided are proper for their environment. For example, the have helped areas becoming more desert like to switch to camel meat and milk from beef. They also teach best practices regarding feeding and care of the animals and environmental protection. We do not have a lot to donate, but this is almost the only charity I support because it's mission is to develop long term results in communities across the globe.

Review from Guidestar

8

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

Do not waste your money and your hope on this group. All you are doing is contributing to a group that sucks up money, sends animals into an unsustainable situation, and pays its CEO about twice as much (last report I saw was $258,000( than the average for nonprofit CEOs. Don't be caught up in the pretty photos of animals that won't survive and prosper inthe situations they are being sent into. What a crock.

18

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been donating to this organization since 1994, ever since I personally visited their projects in East Africa. Owning a livestock animal in Africa immediately lifts an entire family out of poverty and into the middle class. I am impressed by how the projects are run, by local community members who determine their own criteria for chosing which family is most deserving of an animal first. That family then must give back to the project the first offspring of that animal, such that the project is self-sustaining and eventually benefits everyone in the community. Not only is there a rise in income (through selling milk, eggs, etc.), the family has improved nutrition, better access to primary education (which costs money), support and education about farm management from others in the project, and pride in having the resources to support themselves.

19

Donor

Rating: 4

I have given to Heifer International for a couple of yrs. I would hope that most of my donation goes towards what the charity was intended for - livestock for families to make an income on and then pay forward with a contribution towards someone else in their village. I realize my expectations are high and they do have expenses. I will continue to contribute but would like their non-profit to work on lowering their expenses so that more families are affected by these donations. Please only send a small card and envelope 2x/yr for donations. The complaint of so much solicitation from Heifer International is well warranted and expensive - there goes my donation. If expenses do remain high, then perhaps a change of management is needed. Take a look at other charities that have low expenses - it can be done. Let's get back to the idea and passion of it's originators - thank you!

21

Donor

Rating: 3

I thought that I had found a good way to donate. so the first year a bought a goat. Since then I have been inundated with solicitations even though I already am a member. Apparently they have a high paid CEO who thinks this a good way to run this charity. I started this year with a thought of donating a pig, but with each unnecessary solicitation, I am not down to perhaps a flock of chickens, or maybe nothing. Maybe they have too much money and don't care if they waste it. I was also annoyed that donations are switched by them to whatever they want.

13

Donor

Rating: 5

I am both a technical professional as well a a farmer managing nearly 50 head of cattle. I have been a supporter of HI's initiatives for several years and fully support their "teach a man to fish" approach by helping to provide solutions to hunger as well as providing resources to help create sustainable agricultural opportunities that help lead to financial improvement. They are committed to providing agricultural resources that can create sustainable and long term solutions. Some may value a crop over an animal, which is fine, but I find the demonizing of leveraging animals for production (meat, wool, eggs, etc) short sighted and ill informed. HI's goal is admirable and is deserving of support.

Review from Guidestar

22 Yenelli A.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

The pretty pictures in brochures omit the flaws: farmed animals do not live off the land; there isn't enough water for the PEOPLE, let alone the animals. Increased need for food--and lactose intolerance that affects 90% of the equatorial countries create more problems than they solve. See additional facts here http://awfw.org/no-animal-gifts/

18

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

I was about to donate to this organization but after all the reviews of how much soliciting and money is spent on mailers to people that are already donating...seems like organization need to rethink where and how they spend their dollars

14

Donor

Rating: 3

I don't have much more experience that some of the people with their negative comments on here. Perhaps they receive donations from companies for some of these ideas, like return address labels. But if they didn't send out their brochures, I imagine they would not last long. I know I wouldn't necessarily remember to donate. Furthermore, they aren't giving all these animals to people to eat. No, I'm not donating any rabbits, but I would imagine the goats are for milk and the bees are for many things. Noone's eating the bees. So if you don't want to contribute for these reasons, well, I'm sorry to hear that. I'm going to! People in these countries need a jump start and are willing to work to improve themselves. Sounds like a great mission to support.

18

Donor

Rating: 2

I think their idea is great but it seems to me that all the donation money I have given has just been used for glossy mailers. Why send me a glossy, expensive mailer when I already am a contributor? If they would show more wisdom in how they manage their donations I would be much more ready to give in the future.

Review from Guidestar

9

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

FIRST OF ALL I AM A VEGAN! SECOND OF ALL, I WOULD NEVER "DONATE" AN ANIMAL TO TO BE SLAUGHTERED! I GUESS THEY "THINK" ALL OF US ARE STUPID SINCE>.YOU KNOW>.AFTER ALL, LOOK AT OUR COUNTRY THESE PAST 7+++ YEARS & WHAT'S IN IT! SO NO! WE ARE "ALL NOT! STUPID! OR BARBARIANS!"..I AM TOTALLY OFFENDED THAT I EVEN RECEIVED THIS SHOPPING FOR AN ANIMAL TO SLAUGHTER! BUT OF COURSE! THEY ARE A 501 3C SURE & THE WORLD IS GOING TO END TOMORROW! WHAT A SHAM! I TRIED TO FIND A WAY TO EMAIL THESE DISGUSTING PEOPLE< & I COULD NOT..OH I COULD "SUBSCRIBE!"..BY EMAIL..BUT NOT! GOING TO DO THAT! TAKE ME OFF YOUR "LIST!"..I AM NOT WITHOUT COMMON SENSE SO I KNOW WHAT YOU ALL ARE "REALLY DOING!"..& IT'S NOT ABOUT SAVING ANYONE OR FEEDING ANYONE! IT'S ABOUT MAKING MONEY OFF OF SLAUGHTERING ANIMALS! SHIP A COW, FLYING COWS? THINK THIS IS FUNNY? I DO NOT! ALSO, WITH THE "CLINTONS & A FEW OTHERS ON YOUR SO-CALLED "LIST!" I KNOW I WOULD NEVER "TRUST!" ANYTHING "YOUR SO-CALLED NON-PROFIT WOULD OR COULD "EVER! DO!"..DISGUSTING!

14

Donor

Rating: 1

I have a monthly donation to Heifer But with l the mailing I receive biweekly, I will not be renewing my donations. I believe they are spending far more money on mailing than on the purposes of the donations such as buying animals etc. a dissapointing venture on my part.

Review from Guidestar

24

Donor

Rating: 1

I gave a general donation of about 50 dollars at the start of this year. I have since received disgusting amounts of mail from them. I know charities need to ask, but Heifer International brings it to a level that is beyond ridiculous. I receive something from them at least every two weeks, often once a week. It's not just a piece of paper with a return envelope, it's almost always some grandiose bells and whistles envelope with muti-textured cards and glossy fold outs of things like "FOR ONLY 30 DOLLARS YOU CAN GIVE THEM A HIVE OF BEES, FOR 50 DOLLARS YOU CAN GIVE THEM A GAGGLE OF GEESE". I half expect confetti and music on some of the larger envelopes that will appear on random days nowhere near holidays. I'm quite convinced that I'm right on track to making that 50 dollars back via mailed solicitations. I'm not exaggerating, if every envelope and "catalog" I've gotten cost .25 cents, I've been mailed at least 10 dollars. So I suppose my donation has served to solicit 4-5 people, myself included.

I thought the solicitation would die down in a month or two after I gave, it didn't. I even sought out how to remove myself from the actual mailing list, but couldn't find it on their site. So I tried to ignore it, figuring they would cut ties. They are a large charity, surly they have a system of removing non-giving ex-patrons after a few months. Nope, apparently not. The train never slows down and it ever stops. Their mailings kept coming with reckless abandon. I finally had enough and seriously looked into how to remove myself from their mailing. I had to get the information from a totally unrelated website dedicated to helping people get off mailing lists. I googled the email address for this, and it actually is on Heifer's website. It's under their "Privacy Policy" and under the obfuscate question of "How do you contact us regarding your information?" It's nestled in between how you can remain anonymous (which, if you are hell bent on donating to them I IMPLORE you to do, you'll thank me.) and reviewing "your personal information".

It's, by the way: remove@heifer.org; send them your full name, address, phone number (if you gave it, might be a trick to get your number, who knows), and email address you used.

Good luck, because I sent the request a month ago. While it's slowed down, I've received two mails since (three really, but I requested and received the one of the three about two days later. Please also note that three mailings a month is something I consider "slowed down" from them). One was their extravagant multi-paged color glossy Holiday catalog with bees, geese, ewes, chicken, yak, and every other thing bursting at the seams. The other is something simple yet probably a bit more sinister. Every other envelope you can clearly tell is from heifer a mile off, this recent one-the one that got me on here to finally voice my problems with them- is subtle. Only my name and address on the front, with the nonprofit stamp (which tipped me off instantly). On the back, on the top flap is, "Pierre U. Ferrari" in big bold and in smaller normal writing the Heifer International address. Inside is a letter headed only "Pierre U. Ferrari" letter, a "Beat the Tax Deadline" letter, and the only paper to carry the previously omnipresent logo which is the actual contribution paper.

So not only have they seemingly ignored my request and kept sending me stuff, but instead of sending me the over the top overflowing envelopes they are now sending me (and somehow this is more insulting) stealthy, mostly incognito solicitations under the auspices of the CEO.

If you need to give to them (expect your donation to go DIRECTLY into marketing and solicitation), do it anonymously. If you love receiving mail or are very, very lonely (or have an enemy whose mailbox warrants ubiquitous bees, water buffalo, chickens, and water fowl) then giving to them will solve your problems.

Review from Guidestar

28

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heifer International's goal is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. When I first heard about Heifer International, I read the information, saw the YouTube videos, and participated in a Heifer project at my church. I knew they sponsored projects in the US and abroad. They gave animals to families to improve nutrition and health (such as heifers that provide milk). Part of their program included training for families in animal husbandry before they received the animals. Each family that received animals was expected to "Pass the Gift," or give the first born animal to the next family in need, after training that family in animal husbandry. This all sounds very good and sounds like an organization I could and would willingly support. But I am one of those people who want to know for sure this is what the organization does. So I travelled for 21 day with Heifer International in the Philippines. I met and talked with people in communities with whom Heifer works. I listened to their stories, and I watch the respect they showed to the Heifer workers. I watched the care they gave to their animals and how they taught others to care for the animals, so they would be ready when their animals came to them. And I am here to say that "HEIFER INTERNATIONAL DOES WHAT IT PROFESSES TO DO!" I listened to parents talk about the malnourishment their children suffered before Heifer came into their lives. Parents shared with me how they were able to send their children back to school, because they sold the extra eggs, milk, etc. their family did not use. I guess one farmer truly put it in perspective for me. He said, "If I die, my children will weep. If my water buffalo dies, my children will starve." For me that was the turning point in my relationship with Heifer International. I am now a regular donor and have added Heifer International as a beneficiary in my will. I volunteer for them whenever they need me, working with schools, civic organization, and churches to introduce them to Heifer and / or assist them with their Heifer projects. In my book, HEIFER INTERNATIONAL IS THE REAL THING!

Previous Stories
25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I would like to respond to the review written in October 2011 from the person who thinks Heifer recipients treat animals as a commodity. They don't sell the animals because they can't feed them. Before they receive an animal from Heifer, they receive training from Heifer about caring for their animals, using the bi-products of the animals (milk, manure, muscle, etc) to bring their families out of hunger and poverty and to educate their children. They have a CAHV worker (Community Animal Health Volunteer) in each community or a nearby community that is trained by help families when their animals become sick, need vaccinations, give birth, etc. They teach families that all members within the family have value and are equal. They sponsor projects for women, who, in many countries, are considered less valuable than men and are not allowed to own land or animals. As far as being a religious based group that inflicts their religious values on the projects' participants, that is not true. They would with community members who are Catholic, Presbyterian, etc., and at no time did I witness Heifer trying to convert the Filipino natives toward any specific religion. That is not the mission of Heifer. Their mission is work with communities to end hunger and poverty and doing it in a manner that cares for the earth. So, before making statements about an organization, especially one that does so much to help millions of people in the US and abroad, you might want to check your information. Having seen Heifer doing their work up close and personal in the Philippines, I know those statements to be untrue. And by the way, their pride in their animals is very apparent. The animals are cleaner than any animals I have seen on farms in NC. I have watched them wash and care for their animals with great compassion. The animals that end up in US supermarkets should be so lucky!

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7 gala62

Donor

Rating: 4

I have been donating to Heifer for several years now. I generally only donate to local charities, but when I first heard of Heifer, I researched them and found that I really agreed with their approach - help each community to become self-sufficient. It is a practical approach that I believe in.

My main complaints/concerns are similar to ones already mentioned. When I make a donation, don't acknowledge it with another appeal for money. Also, reduce the number of appeals. Thankfully, I have not been contacted by phone. That would be a huge issue for me.

I fully plan to continue my modest donations. They help out the poorest people live a better life.

23

Donor

Rating: 1

I made a small donation to this organization at Christmastime. Since then, I have received emails, phone calls and heavy, glossy mailers sent first class postage asking for more, more, more. Now, it does not bother me that a charitable organization would be trying to solicit donations, but I feel at this point (only a month after making my donation) that my money has been swallowed up campaigning for me to give more, rather than going to the poor who I intended my donation to help. I will never donate to them again.

Review from Guidestar

12

Donor

Rating: 3

I gave to this charity because I respect what they are doing globally. They not only donate an animal to a family in need and train them how to take care if it, they also require that the family donate the first female offspring to another family in need. And then that family must do the same. It's what they call "passing on the gift."

Like a lot of other people have said, my donation left a bad taste in my mouth when the card they sent to say "thank you" also included requests for more money. Saying thank you with your hand out for more is not being thankful at all.

I will say, though, that Heifer is not the only charity that does this. I have donated to Christian Children's Fund, Samaritan's Purse, the American Red Cross, and the ASPCA, and they all do that. It's a real turn-off.

9

Donor

Rating: 5

I have donated to Heifer for several years now. And every year, I'm impressed at the good work they've done, and the improvements they've made in their organization.

I would also like to mention that they've been around for sixty years, and have received hugely prestigious awards for the work they do.

I see a lot of one-star reviews here that contain things that are flat-out wrong about the organization (They don't push Christian ideology, for example.) Others involve well-intentioned people who are simply misinformed as to the facts. (Animals are a vital part of a farm's sustainable ecosystem, for example.)

15

Donor

Rating: 1

A couple of years ago, I donated to Heifer as a part of a donor matching program. Donate $10, it was matched.

The problem is, they have since spent every dime of the money I donated trying to solicit more. Now, I don't mind the nice Christmas labels and address labels they send each year, but the glossy brochures and mailings I regularly receive far outweigh the very small donation I was able to afford. Further research on this charity has unearthed an unsettling amount of negative feedback. I don't regret my donation, but I won't be bothering again.

Review from Guidestar