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|Type||Economic development Charity|
|Origins||Church of the Brethren
Brethren Volunteer Service
Heifers for Relief
|Key people||Pierre Ferrari, President & CEO
Doug Smith, Chairman of the Board
|Area served||Global outreach|
|Focus(es)||Agroecology, sustainability and the environment.|
|Mission||Ending poverty and hunger in a sustainable fashion.|
|Motto||"not a cup of milk, but a cow"|
Heifer International is a global nonprofit with the goal of ending poverty and hunger in a sustainable fashion. Established in 1944, Heifer International gives out gifts of livestock, seeds and trees and extensive training to those in need. Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Heifer International has helped more than 15.5 million families (79 million people) in more than 125 countries.
American farmer Dan West, the founder of Heifer International, was serving as a Church of the Brethren relief worker in Spain during the Spanish Civil War when he became frustrated at being forced to decide how to allocate the very limited rations of milk to refugees (see rationing, triage). Upon his return to the United States, he founded Heifers for Relief, an organization dedicated to providing permanent freedom from hunger by giving families livestock and training so that they "could be spared the indignity of depending on others to feed their children." The basic philosophy of Heifers for Relief was based on the proverb, "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; you have fed him for a lifetime." West's "Give not a cup, but a cow" set the example for what would become Heifer’s sustainability model, which includes Passing on the Gift. With this, each participating family would study animal husbandry and agree to Pass on the Gift, to donate any female animal offspring to another family. In this fashion, he imagined that a single gift would multiply far beyond the original investment. Heifers for Relief became an official project of the Church of the Brethren's Brethren Service Committee in 1942, and the first shipment of 17 heifers went from York, Pennsylvania to Puerto Rico in 1944.
Heifer International was referenced in the hit US political drama The West Wing, in which President Bartlett is required to participate in a photo opportunity with a goat promoting the organisation.
Heifer International today
Today the organization is known as Heifer International and gives gifts of cattle, sheep, rabbits, honeybees, pigs, llamas, water buffalo, chicks, ducks, goats, geese, other regionally appropriate livestock, as well as tree seedlings. As of 2011, these animals and plants have been distributed in more than 125 countries around the globe. Each gift furthers Heifer's interest in agroecology, sustainability and the environment.
Heifer International works to ensure that the gift of each animal will eventually help an entire community to become self-sustaining. Animals such as goats, water buffalo and camels are "seven M" animals: they provide meat, milk, muscle, manure, money, materials and motivation. Once its immediate needs have been met, a family is free to sell any excess at market. Participating families are required to "Pass on the Gift", that is: they must give at least one of the female offspring to a neighbor who has undergone Heifer's training. In time, that neighbor will pass along one of the offspring of its animal, and so on.
Traditionally, Heifer raises funds from individuals, organizations, associations and congregations, though there is commitment to work with multilaterals, bilaterals, foundations, corporations and governments to create wealth and nutrition-building futures and opportunities for families in need. The organization also offers a variety of fundraising options, including Team Heifer and gift registries, including a "wedding registry" in which engaged couples can register for gifts to Heifer instead of traditional wedding presents.
Heifer International provides sustainable development education resources and opportunities for all ages, including a hands-on learning center, Heifer Village, adjacent to Heifer International's world headquarters.
- President and chief executive officer: Pierre Ferrari (successor of Jo Luck)
- Chairman of the board: Doug Smith
In 2010, Heifer International President Jo Luck was named a co-laureate of the World Food Prize.
Heifer International received the 2006 Social Capitalist award from Fast Company magazine.
Heifer International also received the 2004 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize for its efforts to eliminate hunger and help communities become self-sustaining. It was the first US-based organization to win the $1 million award since 1997.
The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) reports that Heifer International meets all of its standards for charity accountability. The WGA found that Heifer International is truthful in its representations of how money is spent, does not allocate an excessive part of its budget for fundraising or administrative expenses and makes its financial statements readily available to the public.
Charity Navigator gives Heifer International an overall rating of 2 out of 4 stars. 69.8% of expenses go to programs; fundraising and administrative expenses are 30.1%.
The Heifer Foundation manages the endowment of Heifer International, an organization dedicated to eradicating global poverty and hunger. Heifer Foundation was established by the board of Heifer International in 1990 to build an endowment to generate ongoing support for the work of Heifer International, to educate the public, and to serve as a fiduciary for donors.
As of December 31, 2005, the Foundation's assets and commitments totaled almost $73.2 million, with an endowment of $32.9 million; $21.9 million in trust and annuity funds; and gift commitments totaling more than $17.8 million. Administration fees are 30.1%.
Ardyth Neill, a veteran of Heifer International and the Foundation is interim CEO of the Heifer Foundation.
Heifer China is part of Heifer Project International (HPI). HPI sent its first batch of 550 dairy cows to China in 1946 through the United Nations Relief Service. The China Program was officially started in 1985 and the China Office was built in 1989 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. 
Heifer China—their approach
1. Target at poor communities directly
More than half of the counties that Heifer works in are designated poor areas. Heifer’s project workers help farmers to identify their problems and needs. The organization often works as the catalyst, through funding from the government, banks and enterprises for project development, to help farmers improve sanitation and infrastructure. For instance, constructing drinking water system, schools and roads.
Thirty-three families in Gengcaigou Village of Weichang County were badly affected by the lack of water. With the help of Heifer, they managed to received 21,100 yuan worth of electric equipments and together with local Water Bureau, the village finally had clean water from a new well in July 2009. 
2. Promote grassroots self-help organizations
Setting up participatory organizations to build collective sense and democratic awareness through organized activities, Heifer China aims to make the poor realize that they have the ability to escape poverty. In self-help groups, farmers learn to make decisions together and form the ability of self-managing and self-developing, improving production skills and cooperativeness among farmers.
3. Passing on gifts (POG) and sharing benefits
Over the years, the project animals received by farmers had produced many good quality descents that are well-adapted to environment and have good productive performance. Each family which received an animal is then bound by a contract to pass on the first female offspring to another family in need, and to also agree to pass on the training and skills that they have acquired. Such sharing serves to multiply numbers of good quality livestock and increases the number of beneficiaries.
The first four recipients of Dayi County Meat Rabbit Project, who received 105 rabbits from USA in 1985, had passed their rabbits' offsprings to other needy families. Mr. Ren Xuping, now the China Rabbit King, was one of those recipients who received 48 breeding rabbits from HPI. He now owns a rabbit group company which is a high quality rabbit breeding center, training school and modern rabbit meat processing plant. He had passed on thousands of rabbits and skills to the others in need. 
Improving income and living
Heifer's development model had provided the farmers with essential skills, which allow their income to rise significantly. Farmers' income could increase by two or three folds. Heifer China 2010POG Campaign-POG Story</ref>
Charity evaluator GiveWell listed Heifer International among "Celebrated charities that we don't recommend." and wrote a series of critical blog posts about Heifer International. GiveWell also published a brief review of Heifer International as a disaster relief organization.
As of the October 17, 2013 income statement, Charity Navigator shows their program expenses, expenses directed toward furthering their goals, as 69.8% of total expenses based on $112 million in total revenue and $80.8 million in functional expenses.
- "Our History. A Four-Footed Attack Against Hunger".
- "Passing on the Gift". Heifer International. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
- List of Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize award winners
- Forbes top ten charities list, 2003
- AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Projects 2007 detail page for Heifer International Headquarters
- List of AIA Institute award winners, 2008
- Better Business Bureau Report for Heifer Project International, February 2012
- Charity Navigator. Accessed 17 October, 2013.
- List of charities rated by the American Institute of Philanthropy, with Heifer Project International shown as complying with open book policies.
- Heifer China’s History
- Farewell to the Lack of Water
- Domestic and International NGOs in the Development of China’s Countryside
- GiveWell blog post on "Celebrated charities that we don't recommend"
- GiveWell blog category Heifer International
- GiveWell review of Heifer International as a disaster relief organization