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FAQs

We have put together the answers to the questions we are most commonly asked. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you have a question or query that is not detailed here, please contact us, and we will be happy to answer these for you.

You can call us on 01225 874222, or use the contact form. We hope you find these questions helpful.

About us

Do you really send cows? reveal

No we don’t physically send cows from the UK anymore, although we were founded when a group of farmers did originally send cows from the UK to Africa - hence our name! Then in 1996, there was a ban on importing European animals into Africa, so we began sourcing our animals locally. This also supports local markets, and reduces transport costs and journey times.

I know someone in Africa who needs livestock. How can they apply to your organisation for help? reveal

They will need to apply to their local Send a Cow office in Africa. Our country offices can only help community groups (not individuals) who are poor by local standards, who would benefit from our package of livestock and other assistance, and who fulfil various other criteria. If you are interested in applying, please call us for details of the relevant country office.

How does the pass-on system work? reveal

All farmers we work with undertake to pass on a gift. This is either the first female offspring of their gift animal to a family in their community group, or another group working with Send a Cow. Or if they receive gifts such as beehives, they pass on money from the first harvest of honey they sell. Farmers also pass on the skills they learn, such as sustainable farming techniques, to their neighbours. So our work goes on multiplying.

What do you mean when you say you have a Christian heritage? reveal

Send a Cow is deeply committed to helping others, regardless of their religion, putting their needs before our own and creating a more just and balanced world.

When our founding farmers sent the first cows to Africa they did so as a practical way of expressing their Christian faith and this heritage lives on. We are proud that some of our founding farmers are still working with us today, helping families in Africa, farmer to farmer.

Their knowledge and experience has proved invaluable, helping us grow into a practical, innovative charity - helping families in Africa to work their way out of poverty for good.

Our work

What do you mean by "organic" or "sustainable" farming? reveal

We train farmers in natural farming methods that meet the needs of present-day farmers without damaging the potential of the land for future generations. This involves integrating livestock and crops, so they are mutually beneficial. Techniques include: using manure to make compost and enrich soil; and making pesticides from animals' urine. For more information, please look at our Natural Gardening leaflet.

Why do you give livestock, and not just crops and training? reveal

Livestock eat grass and farm by-products that cannot be digested by people and convert them into milk, meat, and eggs. Dairy products in particular are a very effective way of restoring malnourished people to health, fast. Furthermore, animal manure is an excellent natural way to enrich the soil, so farmers can grow much higher yields of crops and vegetables. By keeping animals as well as growing crops, farmers spread their risks. They use their animals as a type of 'savings bank', selling a calf when a need such as a medical bill arises. Read our Blessing Not A Burden leaflet for more information.

Don't animals, especially goats, destroy crops and cause erosion? reveal

No, the farmers that we work with are trained how to manage their animals to have the most benefit to them and a minimal impact on the surrounding countryside. We do this by giving all the families we work with thorough training in how to manage their animals, and we check they have built suitable shelters before we place any animals. Generally, animals are stall fed. This means the animal is not allowed to roam freely, but is kept in a roomy shelter and has food brought to it. This also means that farmers can easily collect their animals' manure to enrich their soil. Some animals may be grazed, but under close supervision.

Aren't cows bad for the environment? reveal

No, we believe that if cows are part of a small-scale, mixed crop and livestock farming system they can enable people to live in harmony with their environment. Using manure to enrich the soil means that farmers do not have to use chemical fertilisers, which can be damaging. Recent research indicated that our programmes absorb more carbon than they emit.

How can poor people feed and water their animals? reveal

We only donate larger animals to families with enough land to grow fodder. We provide training in how to grow fodder, and check there is enough growing before we provide a large animal. We also check they have a good water supply, and teach water harvesting techniques too. Families without enough land for cows will receive more suitable animals, such as goats or poultry. Read our Blessing Not A Burden leaflet for more information.

Volunteering

Can volunteers really make a difference? reveal

Definitely. You have skills, contacts, time and knowledge that can really help us. Volunteers encourage people in their community to support our work and fundraise for us. Through volunteers we reach more potential supporters, which means we can help more families work their way out of poverty for good.

Last year, we estimate that volunteers gave over 16,000 hours of their time to Send a Cow, saving us the equivalent salaries of around £170,000. They directly raised over £150,000 and told thousands of people about Send a Cow’s work.

I’m working full time. Can I still volunteer? reveal

Yes. We fully recognise that our volunteers may also have family, work and church commitments. We encourage volunteers to be realistic and honest about how much time they can give. Our roles are flexible and can fit around your existing commitments.

If you do decide that you don’t have time to volunteer for us on a regular basis please consider doing a one-off fundraising event. There are lots of ideas in the fundraising section of our website. 

I would like to volunteer. Who do I contact? reveal

Please contact Carolyn Aitken for an informal discussion. Carolyn can be contacted on 01225 871 912 or email carolyn.aitken@sendacow.org.uk.

Can I claim expenses? reveal

Yes. Send a Cow volunteers can claim for out-of-pocket expenses on the provision of receipts. We just ask that you keep them to a reasonable level and that you get prior approval from the Volunteer Manager for any significant expenditure in line with our expenses policy.

What training do you provide? reveal

We can provide all volunteers with written information about our work. We are happy to give advice by phone and email and encourage you to meet with other volunteers in your area. We can also provide resources such as posters, leaflets and collecting boxes.

All Ambassadors attend a two day training course to help them prepare for giving talks about Send a Cow’s work. The course includes learning more about our work in Africa, presentation skills, resources available and how you can encourage people to support us. We encourage all Ambassadors to attend an annual training weekend in May to keep their knowledge up to date.

Can I tell you if I think something needs to change? reveal

Please do! We value the time and energy you give, and want to listen to you and learn from you. If you feel you would like to change roles or would like to stop volunteering please let us know.

Can I volunteer overseas? reveal

Send a Cow is not able to offer volunteering opportunities in Africa. However, many of our volunteers have been on a study tour to our projects and would be happy to visit your group to tell you about the people they met and what they learnt. Volunteers fund their own study tours.

I do not live in the UK. Can I volunteer for Send a Cow? reveal

Unfortunately we cannot offer volunteer roles to those who live outside of the UK. The key to our volunteer programme is the level of support that we provide through Head Office and our regional teams. Practical constraints mean that we are unable to give overseas residents the support that is necessary to make volunteering effective and rewarding.

We do however have many overseas supporters who donate through our website and organise fundraising events for us. If you live overseas we would encourage you to use our online resources for schools, churches and fundraising events.

I’m under 18 years old can I volunteer for Send a Cow? reveal

If you are under the age of 18 years old, we would encourage you to fundraise for us through your school, college, church or community group. There are lots of resources available on our website.

Family Friend

Why does Send a Cow offer Family Friend? reveal

We want to give our supporters the chance to find out more about the real difference that their donations make. Send a Cow always works in a planned, long term way, building relationships with communities, providing support and training as well as livestock. We appreciate supporters who are able support our work in the long-term and we believe you deserve something in return for that commitment. We think the best way to thank you is to give you a genuine insight into our work and the families we help. Family Friend supporters get the chance to get behind the scenes of our projects and see how our work impacts the lives of a typical family. It’s a powerful and unique opportunity.

How did you select this family? reveal

We asked our Send a Cow colleagues in each country to select a community group containing recently joined families. They selected a suitable group, and then asked the group itself to nominate a family to represent them. The group nominated a family that agreed to share personal details with UK supporters, represented the group and the work that they were doing.

How much of my money actually goes to the project? reveal

If you give £10 a month, £7.50 will be spent on development work in the country you are supporting. The remainder is re-invested in finding new supporters, raising more money and providing you updates on how your money is spent.

If you gift aid your donations, we will receive an additional £2.80 per month, making your donation go even further!

All Family Friend donors receive updates on the family's journey out of poverty. We care about keeping supporters up to date with the amazing difference their support is making. One of the reasons Family Friend supporters donate to us is that they can see they are actually changing lives with their support.

Where possible, we send you updates by email (except for two six monthly updates, containing lots of extra information) or postcard to keep our costs low. If you prefer not to receive updates, you are still welcome to direct your donation to Uganda, Rwanda or Ethiopia. 

Will the family receive special treatment? reveal

Not directly. One of our core principles is valuing all people equally so it’s important that we don’t show favouritism to certain families. Working with groups is a really important aspect of Send a Cow’s approach, to ensure that whole communities benefit.

The representative family will receive more visits than some other families in their community in order for us to collect updates. As a result, they may get additional advice when they are visited by Send a Cow staff. They will not receive additional funding or other benefits. For this reason, we ask that you don’t send gifts for the family.

Family Friend donations are shared amongst communities. Send a Cow works alongside communities of farmers to provide training and livestock, and asks families to form groups and work together for everyone’s benefit. Our experience shows it is more effective to support groups than to give money directly to one family. 

Is this like child sponsorship? Would I be able to visit the family? Can I write to them? reveal

Send a Cow has chosen one family in each of the three countries (Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia) to be a window on their community and country. Through Family Friend, you will follow their journey out of poverty, finding out about their achievements and about the challenges they face.

It is possible to send messages of hope and support to the family and their group at certain points during the year. These are greatly appreciated and are sometimes mentioned in the updates you receive. We don’t encourage direct personal correspondence or visits to families because this would increase our costs and distract attention from our vital training programmes.

I can’t afford £10 a month, can I still join Family Friend? reveal

Family Friend supporters receive a lot of updates and information about the family. We need to ask supporters for a minimum of £10 a month to ensure we can provide interesting updates and still have sufficient funds to carry out high quality development work.

We welcome all donations. So if you can’t manage £10 a month, you can still support Send a Cow in other ways such as buying gifts from our catalogue or giving a smaller amount each month. You will receive our supporter magazine Lifeline, twice a year so you can keep up to date about how your money is being spent and see the real impact your support is having on all the families/communities we work with.

Can I upgrade my current donation? reveal

Absolutely, that would be fantastic. Please call us on 01225 874222.

I already give £10 a month; will I automatically be switched over? reveal

You won’t automatically be switched over. We decided not to in case some supporters prefer not to be part of Family Friend. However, we would be very happy to transfer you on to a Family Friend project. You can choose to direct your donation to Uganda, Rwanda or Ethiopia.

Gifts

Does my money really go on the gift I have chosen? reveal

All the gifts in this catalogue are regularly provided by Send a Cow. Proceeds from these gifts, less the cost of producing the catalogue, are spent on our livestock and training programmes in Africa.

To make best use of your donations, we give livestock and training according to need, taking into account local conditions and the wishes of the recipients where possible.

We guarantee to use your donation in the most effective way to help farmers throughout the seven countries in which we work.

Can I send in a donation by cheque? reveal

Yes of course - cheques need to be made payable to 'Send a Cow' and sent to our address at The Old Estate Yard, Newton St Loe, Bath, BA2 9BR. We also accept postal orders and international cheques.

Can I find out more about the family who will get livestock paid for by my donation? reveal

Unfortunately not. If we were to match donations to gifts it would significantly increase administration costs, so less of your donation would go to the families you want to help. However, Send a Cow does keep in contact with all the families we help through our African offices. All beneficiaries get regular visits from extension workers and other staff.

We will send you news of the number of people that we’ve been able to help thanks to Send a Cow gifts, along with some case studies of families that have benefited. You can hear even more news from Send a Cow by signing up to our email newsletter.

You can also consider becoming a Family Friend. By giving at least £10 a month, you will be able to be part of the journey out of poverty with a family in urgent need. We’ll keep you updated on the amazing effect that regular giving has on a representative family by sending you regular updates on how they are progressing – both the highs and the lows. Find out more here.

How much do you spend on administration costs? What percentage of my donation goes to recipients? reveal

We spend only 1p in every pound on administration. We then spend another 25pence on raising the next pound.

However, with Christmas gifts, none of your money goes on administration. After the costs of producing materials, all your money goes directly to our work in Africa.

You can find out more about how we spend your money in our Annual Review.

How do you price your gifts? reveal

Our costs don’t just cover the animal – they cover the whole Send a Cow ‘package’. That includes training, low-cost vet services, and regular visits by extension workers to give the beneficiaries advice and check that their livestock is doing well.

To make a real impact on a family’s life we always buy good quality animals (usually pure breeds or pure breed crosses). Unfortunately there is often a shortage of good quality animals, resulting in high prices. Our staff are knowledgeable, and ensure that we get the best value for our money. Good quality animals produce much higher yields of milk or eggs etc – up to 10 litres more milk a day, and six times as many eggs as other animals. Their offspring are also of a superior quality and fetch more money at market – the offspring of meat goats, for instance, are much heavier than their local counterparts.

I would like to buy a 'farmyard', as featured in your gift catalogue. Who will get it? reveal

We don’t give a whole farmyard to any single beneficiary. The farmyard gift is a symbolic one – it’s designed to show what £2,000 can do for several poor families. If you donate a symbolic farmyard, we spend your donation on gifts for families in the various countries where we work.

We can’t give you details of all those individuals who receive your gift. But we will send you a photo of a farming family who’ve recently been helped by Send a Cow, along with the story of how their lives have changed.

Can I visit my recipient / group? reveal

To identify which group or community your donation would help would significantly increase administration costs, so less of your donation would go to the families you want to help. Our staff in Africa wouldn’t have the time or the resources to manage such a trip – it would distract from the work they do with the poor families we are working with. However, Send a Cow does keep in contact with all the families we help through our African offices. All beneficiaries get regular visits from extension workers and other staff.

We will send you news of the number of people that we’ve been able to help thanks to Send a Cow gifts, along with some case studies of families that have benefited. You can hear even more news from Send a Cow by signing up to our email newsletter.

You can also consider becoming a Family Friend. By giving at least £10 a month, you will be able to be part of the journey out of poverty with a family in urgent need. We’ll keep you updated on the amazing effect that regular giving has on an example family by sending you regular updates on how they are progressing – both the highs and the lows. Find out more here.

Gift Aid

Who is eligible for Gift Aid? reveal

For a donation to quality for Gift Aid, you must be a UK taxpayer. You must pay enough income tax or capital gains tax to at least equal the amount of tax Send a Cow will claim on your donations made in that tax year. The tax year runs from 6 April; to the following 5 April. This means that if you have given a donation of £100, you will need to have paid £25 tax.

Which donations are NOT eligible for Gift Aid? reveal

The Inland Revenue does not allow us to reclaim Gift Aid on your donation if you told us that the donation was on behalf of someone else or a group of people.

  • You can only make a Gift Aid declaration on your own donation
  • You cannot make a Gift Aid declaration on behalf of someone else, even if they are themselves a UK taxpayer
  • The only way around this is to ask each person to complete a declaration on the amount they have donated. We can supply collection envelopes, which do make provision for Gift Aid

Can I cancel my Gift Aid Declaration? reveal

If you wish, you can cancel your declaration at any time. Please let us know if you no longer pay sufficient tax to cover the tax that we reclaim. The cancellation will take effect from the time we receive your letter.

What happens if I am no longer eligible to give Gift Aid, or my status changes? reveal

If your circumstances change and you no longer want to give Gift Aid, please let us know.

Contact us

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