Great gifts from Oxfam

I’m sure many of you know about Heifer International, which provides livestock and training to folks around the world (including the US). You can “give a gift of a flock of chickens” to a friend; your friend receives a card, and a family somewhere in the world gets the chickens.

Oxfam has a similar type of system, though their gifts include a wider range of items: not just livestock, but mosquito nets, school books, water pumps, and the like.

With both of these programs, you’re actually giving a cash donation to the organization to be distributed as need dictates. So, you’re not actually giving a hive of bees; you’re giving a cash donation roughly equivalent to the price of setting someone up with a hive of bees. In fact, your money might be used to buy five flocks of ducklings instead of a hive of bees.

I’m fine with this arrangement. The “gift” pretense makes it much more fun to personalize the gift to the recipient, and also gives the organization the latitude it needs to do its work. I trust that they will do good things with my donation; Charity Navigator gives Heifer 3 stars and Oxfam 4 stars.

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