The Heifer Project: Not BS

Paul D. wrote us in about an unsolicited catalog he got from The Heifer Project, a charity that purports to send cows, chickens and goats to the third world. He’s skeptical:

    The catalog features photos of celebrities joyfully holding aloft livestock, imploring you to purchase one for charity. Celebrities include (among others) Ed Asner, Patricia Heaton, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Jimmy Carter, Susan Sarandon, and the mom from Malcolm In the Middle. (I mildly suspect Photoshoppage, but what the hell do I know?)

    At first I swore it was an elaborate joke. I mean, whiskeytangofoxtrot? WHO GIVES LIVESTOCK AS A GIFT OR AS A CHARITABLE DONATION? Over the Internet? ON A CREDIT CARD?!?

The Heifer Project is a very real and admirable charity. Internet humorist and newspaper columnist James Lileksregularly donates money sent to his website to them.

Believe it or not, there are many places in the world where the gift of livestock is actually a much better charitable gift than a bag of food… the idea is that they can use this livestock to be self-sufficient. Cows can be milked. Chickens lay eggs. All these animals can be breeded. Livestock is self-replicating currency to many people in the world. People who donate to the Heifer Project do so because they are eager to help the less fortunate become more self-sufficient. Not only that, but people who get a gift from the Heifer Project agree to share some of the offspring with neighbors in need, bringing them into the charity as well.

Yes, it seems a tad absurd to us Yanks. But it’s a great charity with living, breathing results.

The Heifer Project [Official Site]


Edit Your Comment

  1. zentec says:

    “The Heifer Project”, a new NBC reality show where fat chicks get real dates from heterosexual men.

  2. RandomHookup says:

    You can still get a damn fine woman in exchange for a cow in certain parts of this country.

  3. laurion says:

    My GF is a vet student and has had many field classes at Heifer Project. So they’re not only working on sustainable development, they’re also helping out people here in the US.

  4. kcskater says:

    My family has been giving goats through the heifer project for over 10 years. We learned about it through our church when they started donating flocks of goats around Christmas. The intent is for the livestock to provide milk, cheese, and hair, not meat. It’s a great way to help a family for a number of years.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    Actually, the best part of this catalogue is the “Gift Ark,” where you send two of any animal. From the magazine, which is sitting on my table:

    2 Cows. To bring milk and income to a Russian village.
    2 Beehives. To help families in Kentucky earn money through the sale of honey and beeswax.
    2 Trios of Rabbits. To provide food and income for families in Guatemala.

  6. jrenaut says:

    My mom thinks this is the coolest thing ever. She asked for us to do this for her birthday a little while back. I think she pictures poor children in a third world country frolicking in the pasture with this goat that has brought them such proseperity, taught them to read, administered vaccinations for mumps and polio, and chased away the evil troll that tormented them on their way to market.

    Seems like a great idea, though. The whole “give a man a fish vs teach him to fish”. It’s one thing to send him a package of canned goods, but quite another to send him something that has lasting value, and can help him help himself.

  7. Paul D says:

    Ah well…

    “Teach a man to fish” yadda yadda.

    Good charity.

    Weird. But good.

  8. A very real and great charity it is. My old company used to donate money to the Heifer Project on behalf of our authors around Christmastime.

    And it was profiled on 60 Minutes a couple years ago. An African girl whose family had received a goat from the Heifer Project went on to college in the U.S. I think she studied veterinary medicine, which would make sense.

    In general, livestock is incredibly important to human survival in times of war or famine.

  9. AcilletaM says:

    I think this was highlighted in an episode of the West Wing as well.

  10. Triteon says:

    They’ve been around for awhile and have a decent reputation. It’s certainly no worse than the original heifer project– that is, Sally Struthers.
    Their BBB report is here.

  11. Lyn Never says:

    They are not really horrible about the begging and spam, either. I get a catalog/brochure a couple of times a year, one usually around now for holiday giving, and I get an email every month or two that I could unsubscribe from if I wanted to.

  12. Spiny Norman says:

    The Heifer Project has been an active charity doing real good in the world for more than 40 years. The track record is impecable. These souls “get it”. Make up a two-pack of these guys with World Vision and donate, donate, donate! You’ll do more good in the world than “free-trade coffee” and your local recycler combined.

    Anyone else need a soapbox? I’m done.

  13. Drinker Nisti says:
  14. sonic0boom says:

    The Heifer Project is great. I have several family members (like my mom) who always tell my siblings and I not to get them anything for Christmas. This is the perfect gift for them because it goes to a great cause and because it involves a physical item. So instead of sending $50 to some nebulous cause at, say, the Red Cross, they know some poor family now has a bunch of chickens from which they can get eggs or whatever.

  15. PsychicPsycho3 says:

    Aside from the obvious incredibly renewable income source, it also gives potentially indigent people a sense of purpose. They have to keep enclosures maintained, feed and clean the animal, and possibly milk them. This is very much “teaching a man to fish.”

  16. gte910h says:

    Instead of favors at our wedding, we had decided to give 2 goats for all the guests. They’re to remember us when next they see a goat or give to heifer.


  17. stubar says:

    Easily the best and most hilarious mention of this was on the first season of the Ricky Gervais podcast, which if you haven’t listened to you’re missing out on some amazing shite. Not sure what episode it was, but there aren’t that many to sift through, and it certainly won’t be a waste of time.

  18. Frank Grimes says:

    One more reason to donate to them, they run a farm in Rutlans, MA and had a terrible fire earlier in the year:

  19. Frank Grimes says:

    Unfortunatley they also suffred a pretty bad fire last year at their barn in Rutland, MA:

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    Does that work for kids too?

    There are a couple *really* annoying brats that live down the street whose character would be improved by some tough-love, Azerbaijan style…

  21. what if the cow doesn’t want to go?

  22. PandemicSoul says:

    Their new building here in Little Rock is pretty amazing, too. It has all kinds of neat green technology, like rainwater recyclers and such.

    Heifer is, as many have mentioned, a very upstanding charity that does great work around the world. They also do educational seminars here in the U.S. teaching students about how people live in 3rd world countries — helping today’s youth understand how priviledged we are here in the U.S.

    Quite amusing that someone who’s on their mailing list to begin with is so skeptical…

  23. zentec says:

    Didn’t some tribe in Africa send livestock to the victims of 9/11?

  24. jesirose says:

    I worked for HPI in Little Rock, and I can assure anyone it is one of the best charities out there.

    And as for this

    How about people who realize there are people who don’t have ANY of the luxuries we do? Who gives livestock as a gift? People who give a damn about epidemic hunger and suffering. The only whiskey-tango-foxtrot goes to the person who can’t comprehend charitable giving.