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Our Approach

Transformation Begins at the Foundation

Heifer International works with communities to strengthen local economies. Our values-based, holistic and community development approach focuses on:

Two key foundational elements become the multiplier for change:

Improved Global Sustainable Livelihoods

We know that no single organization and no number of isolated projects can address the systemic causes of poverty and hunger. Our approach involves enhancing the capacity of vulnerable small-scale farmers, especially women, to secure their livelihoods. Multiplied by strong social capital and women’s empowerment, our work results in a sustainable solution to world hunger and poverty.


A Heifer program is a set of strategically connected projects aligned with a long-term commitment that empower small-scale farmers to achieve socially, economically and environmentally secure livelihoods. Because our programs are constructed to address the specific needs of a region, they can vary in size and geographic scope. They can exist within a single country, or span across national borders to help as many people as possible. This focus on scalability allows our work to have the greatest, most lasting impact possible.

Our programs are designed to unify our smaller projects to address large-scale, regional challenges. Each initiative is developed using a five-pronged programmatic approach.

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Our Programmatic Approach

The key processes of a program are designed to help communities become the drivers of their own change.


Each program is geared toward achieving sustainable impact. By creating long-term plans and making a commitment to persistent effort, we are able to address the underlying structural causes of poverty and hunger.

Creative Enhancement

The core of our model is our values-based approach coupled with the strategy of Passing on the Gift. Through innovation, we enhance our capacity to apply state-of-the-art tools, methods and technologies to design and implement our programs and projects around the world.


For each program, we coordinate with strategic partners, private and public entities, local governments and research institutions. By working together, we are able to move more families out of hunger and poverty more quickly.


Strategic application of resources is critical to the long-term success of our programs. We account for the financial, environmental and social costs of each project so that we, along with our partners, can use those resources wisely and to maximum effect.


All our programs have a focus on values-based training so that poor, vulnerable producers become the key drivers of change in their neighborhoods. In turn, communities and entire regions become resilient and self-sufficient.

Gauging Effectiveness

We require each program to include:

  • An in-depth and holistic analysis that highlights major social, political, economic, environmental and contextual factors affecting root causes of hunger and poverty
  • Internal coordination and collaboration of all teams, from finance and administration, to human resources, to marketing and resource development
  • A comprehensive strategy that approximates resource requirements (both financial and human) as well as realistic resource mobilization and leveraging plans
  • Program monitoring and evaluation systems that capture impact and outcome level indicators
  • A knowledge management plan
  • Defined roles and responsibilities that identify expertise needed and a decision-making hierarchy
  • Ability to demonstrate 360 degree accountability
  • An exit strategy and sustainability plan that includes economical/financial sustainability, environmental sustainability, social sustainability and institutional sustainability

We strive to be a world-class leader in outcome-driven development. In 2013, we launched our Global Impact Monitoring System and collected baseline data related to our important development work. Now, we can celebrate not only the success of collecting our first round of monitoring data, but also that the data show the clear impact our work has in the livelihoods of the families with whom we work. We are ending hunger and poverty in our project communities.

See Our Global Impact

Transformation Begins with the Desire for a Better Life

Training creates a deep, personal impact among project participants, which in turn leads to a lasting impact among communities.



Our values- based approach encourages people to see their strengths and values, rather than a situation of hopeless poverty.

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All our projects must be carefully crafted in such a way that helps achieve long-term success and sustainability.

Learn about how our projects are designed and implemented



Livestock plays a central role in most of our work, both as a strategy for alleviating poverty and achieving food security and proper nutrition.

Learn more about the importance of livestock



Reaching and Maintaining Sustainable Livelihoods through the formation of self-help groups and values-based training.

See the world we aim to achieve.