For as long as I can remember, the Heifer Project, based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Started by a member of the Church of the Brethren back in the 1940s, Heifer uses innovative marketing and cutting edge nonprofit fundraising strategies to help the poor of the world feed themselves and earn a more sustainable living. The organization is built on the Biblical injunction that if you give a person a fish, you feed him/her for one day. If you teach that person to fish, you feed him/her for a lifetime. And, so, those in need in many developing countries are gifted with chickens for egg laying, bees for honeymaking, cows for milking, and on and on.
A number of things make the organization extra special, in my mind. First is their fundraising strategy. Rather than asking individuals to give to some general operating support fund, they monetize the abovementioned agriculture gifts and invite contributors to “buy”—all or some of the gift to the recipients. So, for example, a gift giver can purchase a heifer for $500 or a share of a heifer for $50. A sheep is a mere $120 and a share of a sheep is only $10! In recent years, Heifer has expanded with gifts of clean water, garden seeds and knitting baskets. Brilliant!
Another compelling initiative is that once a gifted family has reached a greater degree of self-sufficiency, they are required to help another family in their community.
There are simply too many wonderful stories that come from the Heifer archives. I invite you to take a look for yourself at Heifer. It’s a most perfect holiday gift!