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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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/
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
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.