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!
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!
Heifer Foundation locates needy people in needy countries and teaches them how to raise animals AND share them with their neighbors, allowing them to earn enough to pay school fees for their kids and eat better and even, sometimes, afford medical attention. Did I forget something? And Betty's slide shows about the people who are involved in their homes makes the whole deal very real. Thank you Betty.
My sisters and i have donated funds to this organization for several years. We use it as Christmas gifts to each other as we do not need more stuff. I had to write, email, and finally call them to get them to stop sending me solicitations for funds. It was redundant in my case for them to try to convince a donor to donate. Finally I yelled at them on the phone and the solicitations stopped. I still donate and plan on sending a little more this year as one of my sisters went to Kosovo on business and got to eat a meal with a woman and her daughter who had received a cow. As most people know a lot of men were killed in Kosovo and so the women were left to farm on their own. The lady told my sister that the cow literally saved their lives. The milk products and the hope the gift inspired.
I always recommend this charity to others. The objective is to provide a sustainable life, mainly to women and children. I have given since 2003. They produce a magazine that I read from cover to cover about conditions and solutions in various areas of the world. I am a much better educated person about the difficulties in the world due to their information. I then leave the magazine in doctor's offices or my university to pass along the information to others. Since the work is meant to be self sustaining, the impact of my contributions lasts beyond the animal given. I consider it more than a one time gift. That being considered, there is more impact per dollar than a gift of clothing or food. I will continue to donate in the future.
Review from CharityNavigator
After researching Heifer International, it seemed it was a reliable place to use my money to help people. I proceeded to donate money. I felt excited that rather than using money for my own material goods, I'd be helping people in an impoverished part of our planet. I donate to many charities, but this seemed to really get to needy people more directly to help themselves. I envisioned donating money and marking a map to show where my donations where used. I hoped to cover the map with my donations. I didn't want to know a specific person receiving the donation, but rather what country/region where my funds were used. I thought that was a reasonable expectation: Where was my donation used? I asked Heifer International roughly where my donation was used so that I could start marking my map, and continue to donate. What Heifer Internation stated was they couldn't tell me where my funds were used. Furthermore, they didn't even provide me any message (card/email/letter) to provide me of proof that I even had made the donation. They told me to print my own statement from the website. In fact, they seemed surprised I asked. The whole experience left me wondering if indeed they even used my donation to help people? Why couldn't they tell me where my funds were used if it is a honest organization? Just how honest is Heifer International ? Sure they show a few key places in their brochure where donations were used, but shouldn't they have to account for every dollar?
Review from CharityNavigator
I have been donating to Heifer for a number of years now; it is the main charity that I donate to each year. I believe in its mission and its approach. However, the one thing that always causes me pause every year is the ratio of money donated to money that actually gets spent on the program - it is "only" about 73%. The biggest problem I see is that they spend far too much money on fundraising, mostly in the form of about 5 or 6 glossy catalogs I receive each year. I would like NOT to receive this, and just get emails instead, to save the money for the actual program. Unfortunately, there is no way to opt out of not receiving all the mailings. I consider this a problem for the charity.
I give monthly to Heifers, and while they do have some "office" problems whenever there is a money issue, their work makes them worth my time and money.
In my opinion, it is more beneficial to work on long-term, sustainable means of subsistence so that impoverished people are give a way to earn their living, as opposed to short-term solutions. While it is very important to treat the immediate 'symptoms' of poverty, and I am not impugning those charities in any way, I like that Heifer treats the 'disease' behind the problem.
I know the President makes over $250,000 but this is hardly obscene considering she is running a huge organization at a fraction of what other CEOs would make.
In short, I am a big fan of this charity and would happily recommend it to anyone.
Review from CharityNavigator
I have long admired the work that Heifer does and was happy to contribute after the Haiti earthquake with funds designated for that effort. I began receiving requests for additional donations immediately. I currently receive solicitations via phone, email and US mail at least once per week. This is far too much time and resources spent on fundraising.
Review from CharityNavigator
I am a agricultural conservationist by trade and am extremely impressed with the creativity that Heifer uses to tackle hunger, poverty, and the downtrodden plight of women in poverty-stricken regions. They prove that the old adage, "give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime" is still true. Solving complicated hunger issues through locally driven initiatives offers a hand up with dignity and causes permanent change to occur. If I could give this organization more than 5 stars, I would. I am confident that this organization is a good steward of donor monies. As for the comments about the CEO's salary, I believe that the laborer is worth his/her hire. This person is responsible for piloting a large, multinational organization dependent on donor funding which holds the fate of thousands in its hands. Compare the salary with CEO's of for-profit corporations of similar size for a more accurate reading.
In the past, during the Christmas Season, I have donated animals and agricultural products to my friends and family. Before I donate, I always check the Charity Navigator Website to verify Project Expenses vs. Administration and Fund Raising costs. Your organization meets expectaions in this regard, however the President's salary is too high.
Review from CharityNavigator
My contact with Heifer Intl. has been brief, and possibly never again. I ordered a llama online, using my PayPal account. About an hour after placing the order I checked PayPal. There I discovered they had made two identical charges. I don't know if I hit the wrong button, or if they are doing something. Immediately I sent an email message that the second charge was a mistake and to please remove it. When no one replied, I phoned a number I found on their website. A man with whom I talked said he would take care of it. Meanwhile, both charges have been made to my credit card linked to the PayPal, and the PayPall account now shows that both items have been paid. I don't know if there is any way to get this corrected, but I do know that I will NEVER do this again. Also, I will tell my story to anyone in the world who will listen as a cautionary tale.
Review from Guidestar