Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Caring Causes: Heifer International

The major holiday season may be over, but gifts from Heifer International are great ways to do good all year long. I had a chance to interview Christy Moore, Heifer’s VP of Marketing to learn more.

What does Heifer International do?
There are more than 800 million people in the world who don’t have enough food to eat, and Heifer International believes that by empowering smallholder farmers to feed themselves and their communities, they will in turn feed the world population. Research shows that when investments are made in the world's 2.6 billion small-scale farmers, agriculture can make twice the impact on poverty as growth in other areas.

For our work to be successful it is essential that we empower families to create the conditions for their own success. We provide them with the tools and resources, but they do the hard work. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market.

How was the organization started?
A farmer from Indiana named Dan West founded Heifer International in the early 1940s. His vision was that every man, woman and child be free of the shackles of hunger, no longer plagued by poverty and despair.

Now 70 years later we continue with his vision as our guide because we believe in giving poor families in the developing world the means to lift themselves out of what seem to be the most dire of circumstances.

What sets it apart from other aid organizations?
The secret of Heifer’s success is that livestock reproduce. Heifer provides hundreds of thousands of animals ever year, and every recipient promises to “Pass on the Gift” to another family when their animal gives birth, so one gift to Heifer multiplies. We’ve seen communities hold fast to this idea over and over. In some places, 22 generations of Heifer animals can be traced. On average, Passing on the Gift® lasts for at least nine generations, no matter the project.

What are the advantages of alternative gifting?
Many of us complain about having so much “stuff” and Heifer International provides a way to give a gift that is meaningful but doesn’t clutter up your house.  The gift of an animal like a goat, duck or cow from Heifer International makes a unique and meaningful present – especially since it goes where it’s most needed. Heifer provides livestock and training to families in hunger and poverty around the world, and provides them with the means to become self-sufficient. It’s really the gift that keeps on giving.

Gift options examples:
Flocks of chicks ($20)
Honeybees ($30)
Goat ($120)
Heifer ($500)

How can people be sure that the money is getting to where it's intended to go?  
As a donor, you are given the opportunity to specify gifts to country programs or for specific animals. Gifts are deposited into various animal accounts, such as "llama/alpaca," "tree seedlings" or "bees." We have different accounts for every type of Heifer International animal and we do our best to accommodate a donor’s request, but ultimately meeting the needs of hungry families comes first.

Every gift to Heifer International represents a gift to our total mission of purchasing and transporting food and income-producing animals, as well as providing intensive training in animal husbandry; environmentally sound, sustainable farming; community development and global education. Again, gifts designated for a particular project or animal are used as requested until that need is fully met. Any remaining money is put to use where it is needed most.

Givers, recipients and participants all become part of a movement of change. Together, we are making the world a better place, where families can feed themselves and care for the planet. To learn more please visit: www.heifer.org.

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