Literary goats, like the one that carried Clumsy Hans (Jack the Dullard) to the princess, and Tanngrisnir (Tooth grinder) and Tanngnjostr (tooth gnasher) that pulled Thor’s chariot. And then there are the thousands of goats that Danes have given to the world’s poorest. The goats are worth their weight in gold there. That story started on a cold November day 10 years ago.
2006 – 15th of November
Aase the goat launches the campaign on TV.
DanChurchAid launched charity gifts in Denmark. The then Secretary General, Henrik Stubkjær, was invited to tell about the idea on TV and had, for the occasion, borrowed a goat that went with him to the studio:
“The goat’s name was Aase, and it definitely didn’t want to come along to the Good Morning Denmark studio. Aase was very nervous, so a young man had to go behind her and clean up because she left droppings. That’s what nervous goats do. We were in the studio together with Lars Løkke Rasmussen who was Minister of the Interior and a Demining Ambassador for DanChurchAid. The presenter, Jes Dorph, was afraid of the goat, so Lars Løkke was given the job of looking after it. He was from a venerable agricultural political party. Aase behaved well, and she ate just one apple, while we sent the message about Give a Goat. After the program the story exploded in all the media.”
2006 – December
An unexpected swarmof gift givers
Ten villages in Malawi had been chosen in advance to receive goats. DanChurchAid’s experts had prepared guidelines, so both recipients and goats could make a good start. A modest hope was a sale of 2,500 goats. But right after the launch the sales took off; at times one goat a minute was being sold. Long before Christmas the goal for the sales was achieved. And also the other presents in the catalogue, for example kitchen garden kits and chickens, were under the Danish Christmas trees.
2007 – January
Hallo – we have good news!
Having sold about 16,000 goats, DanChurchAid’s staff was busy.
“I phoned my colleagues in, among other places Sudan, Zambia and Ethiopia and offered them goats. The criteria were: 1. that the goats must be part of a larger project, 2. that there has to be an environmental impact assessment, 3. that the recipients must be taught how to care for goats and 4. that the goats must be checked by a veterinary doctor,” says Mette Lund Sørensen, who is an agricultural expert at DanChurchAid.
Critics: Goats cause desertification
After the success of the sales campaign, critical voices pointed out that the many goats would eat their way through the degraded areas at the expense of other animals and the people for whom the help was intended. Agriculturalists, who were senior volunteers at DanChurchAid, travelled out on inspection and responded that goats did not spread deserts.
2008 – 2016 and into the future
Climate gifts, artificial legs and other help
Charity gifts take many shapes, and the selection has in all ten years been adapted and changed.
Some years the gifts have been topical in relation to the world’s focus. That happened in 2009 when more than 100 heads of state discussed climate problems during COP 15 at Bellacenter in Copenhagen. The novelty that year was the climate gift “Give an Island” that was a lifeline to people in areas with floods caused by climate change. The lifeline could actually be help to improve a house, help to get lifesaving equipment and teaching.
Other gifts are literally daily support for the recipients. It can be a leg prosthesis that was launched in 2012 and called “Give a Leg”. The slightly bizarre appeal is based on the tragic reality in Myanmar where many people are injured by landmines.
This year solar cells and mobile subscriptions are in the catalogue. With them people can get light in darkness and stay in touch with their loved ones.
It is DanChurchAid’s staff in the offices in the countries where we work who, together with colleagues in Denmark, select the gifts. That way the choice is based on specialists’ evaluation.
A GOAT? WHAT A SMART IDEA!
“That is a smart idea,” thought DanChurchAid’s then Fundraiser, Kim Skytte, when he heard the British NGO OXFAM tell about its gift catalogue Unwrapped at a conference in Holland in October 2005. Unwrapped provided a way for people in Britain to buy gift card for one another, while the real products – among other things goats – were given to poor families in developing countries.