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What is Heifer International?

Updated on November 17, 2009

Since its founding, Heifer has served over 10.5 million hungry families in the United States and 125 other countries move toward self-reliance through gifts of animals that provide families with food and income.

History and mission of Heifer International

Heifer International can be a great resource for gifts for the loved ones on your Christmas list who are passionate about animals or alleviating poverty and improving the lives of impoverished families worldwide. Founded in 1990 and located in Little Rock, Arkansas, Heifer International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to relieving global hunger and poverty. It supplies livestock, baskets, and plants to impoverished families throughout the world through gifts of particular animals that it manages through its website donation program. Sustainable agriculture is the crux of Heifer’s approach to alleviating hunger and poverty around the world.

Gift-giving through Heifer International

You can visit Heifer International’s website and purchase livestock, including goats, sheep, cows, llamas, chickens, ducks, geese, and rabbits. Heifer International delivers the animal to a family in need and teaches families how to live off the eggs, milk, or workpower provided by the animals. Families who receive donated animals must agree not to harvest the animal for food, but rather to use the animal for long-term income. Families used the increased income to provide education and food.

Baskets of various kinds are also in Heifer’s gift catalog. Families need baskets to haul wool, carry eggs, or house rabbits. Heifer families often use the baskets to pass on benefits to other families in their communities—giving away the offspring of their rabbits or making clothing from the wool for their neighbors. This “pass it on” community effort, combined with Heifer International’s educational outreach to families and communities, ensures that Heifer’s work has long-term, sustainable impact on the problems of poverty around the world.

Heifer International Projects

Donors to Heifer International also have the option of giving toward one of Heifer International’s projects. Each project is unique and focuses on addressing the needs of a particular impoverished community around the world. For instance, Heifer International’s project in Laos serves 460 families by empowering women to spearhead community development through agriculture. Families will receive goats, cows, pigs, weaving material sets, saplings, 1,400 pounds of crop seeds, and 22 pounds of vegetable seeds. Heifer will provide a series of trainings on agriculture and gender equity, saving fund management and animal raising techniques. The focus groups involved in this project will then train other groups in the future.

Image Credit: Jelle S, Flickr


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