Raising a Pandemic Puppy Is Just Like Growing Your Giving

Aug. 17, 2021 null

By Joe Sorenson, CAP®, pictured below with daughter Lola, wife Molly, and Patch the goldendoodle.

nullAccording to a recent study, one out of five Americans welcomed a dog or cat into their home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apply that figure to data from the U.S. Census and it equates to 23 million new furry family members. At the Community Foundation, we are certainly seeing the pet boom in full force with six new dogs and four chickens joining the families of our staff. Our own family has grown by four legs with the arrival of Patch, a goldendoodle that has stolen my daughter’s heart and has got me in full-on puppy training mode.

As I’ve searched the internet for tips on how to guide Patch on her journey to becoming a “good girl," I’ve found my mind drifting to the ways in which bringing a pet into our home is a lot like setting a charitable giving strategy.

Find Focus: From my unprofessional perspective, there must be one billion blogs, websites and articles devoted to sharing information on the best way to train a puppy. The same could be said of giving back. There are countless causes and organizations that deserve our support, but how do you decide where to give?

  • Start by defining your values. What do you place the most personal worth in and what beliefs are core to you?
  • Identify your interest areas. Think about the organization that have affected you, where you volunteer or the issues that you care about most.
  • Create a personal or family charitable giving mission statement. Patch is driven by commands. She (kind of) knows what sit, stay and stop eating that shoe mean and they serve as guardrails to help keep her focus. Likewise, a charitable mission statement can help you focus on what matter most to you and align your giving to causes that match what you care about.

Strengthen your pack: Patch has been a great addition to our family, but my wife and I have purposefully had lots of conversations and coaching with our 4-year-old daughter about how and why we train Patch the way we do. We want her to feel involved in the process and to help guide her so that when we aren’t in the room she shares in our belief that Patch cannot eat the entire box of treats. It’s the same approach we use when passing on the importance of giving back. We set an example, have conversations and involve the whole family in community involvement and giving. We know that is how we pass on the joy of giving to future generations.

It takes a team: Who knew that a puppy needed its own posse? A veterinarian, obedience school, boarding, dog park buddies and the list goes on and on. I’ve been left with the impression it takes a village to raise a puppy. Sometimes that same feeling can apply to how we approach developing our financial plans. We create a team with an attorney, financial advisor, accountant and more. As you develop this well-rounded team to be prepared for whatever may happen next, consider adding a charitable giving advisor. A charitable giving advisor can work alongside you and your other team members to ensure that just as you meet your financial goals in the most advantageous ways, you are effectively meeting your charitable goals both now and into the future.

The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines is committed to providing tools and resources to make your giving simple, personal and effective. Whether using our Giving Guide to develop your personal mission statement, taking advantage of our Strategic Giving Services to engage your next generation in giving back or using our expert team to help you determine the best ways to meet your giving goals in tax-wise ways, we are here to help so you can focus your time on the fun of making a difference. Because at the end of the day, giving back fills you with a feeling of joy that you just can’t replicate, even with the cuddles of man’s best friend.