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The Heifer Way

Seagoing cowboys with one of the first shipments of Heifers
These cowboys took to the sea with one of the first shipments of heifers.

Big change starts small

Dan West, our founder, understood that we all have the potential to live our best lives. All we need is a little push.

West and his friends gave the first nudge in 1944 when their donated livestock left the U.S. They knew that their cows were going to help people who really needed it. What they didn't know is that this gift of livestock would create a ripple effect that began a movement that changed the face of the fight against hunger.

Out of that simple act grew an international nonprofit organization firmly planted in the idea that we are all responsible for each other. Working with farmers, helping others to help themselves has been an integral piece of our 70-year journey.

Today, we remain dedicated to our roots: that what is right and just is for every person on this Earth to have a future free from hunger and poverty.

Transformation starts at the foundation

Farming is the most core, elemental human role. It has been the foundation of thriving civilizations and societies. We believe it is no different today. That's why Heifer works with communities and small-scale farmers, many of them women. We see our future in them. We know that with the right tools, training and livestock, small farms in impoverished nations can be transformed. We believe small farms are key to feeding the entire world. 

What Sets Us Apart

Eduardo Najera Gonzalez, 6, and Cary Rubelse, 5, eat lunch together in Matasuno Village, Guatemala.
Eduardo Najera Gonzalez, 6, and Cary Rubelse, 5, eat lunch together in Matasuno Village, Guatemala.

Small sparks create big fires. Together we are the catalyst to help others help themselves. Our power lies in the belief that every person is in charge of his or her future. We are all change makers. In the broadest sense, Heifer believes that hard work will bring about a better tomorrow and solutions for poverty. And that it will take all of us collectively to create sustainable change.

Every person's individual success is encouraged and cultivated by help from friends, family and entire communities. By enabling our 12 guiding principles which serve as the foundation for value-based community development, we enable the catalysts for invested change.

The core of those principles is Passing on the Gift. For each livestock gift, families agree to pass on the offspring of that animal to another person in need. 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.

The evolution from gratitude to generosity is a powerful transformation. Social growth comes through training in our cornerstones for just and sustainable development. Values such as gender equality, full participation, sharing and caring, improving the environment, accountability and training and education, are the backbone of our work.

Let's grow together

Heifer envisions a bold future as a world hunger charity, one in which more lives are transformed in a sustainable way. Our vision is a world where communities live together in peace and equitably sharing the resources of a healthy planet.

Help us create change