Is Your Philanthropic Support Going to the Dogs?
I was recently with a donor who is also an important volunteer to our organization. This donor is an excellent representative for our organization. My boss and I asked him to consider giving his philanthropic support to our upcoming campaign. He mentioned that our organization was at the top of his list of charities to support, but also noted when he passes away he was going to leave funds to the Humane Society for unwanted senior dog care. While my conversation had to focus on the fundraising ask at that moment, he touched a personal tender chord with his animal comment. I was dying to talk to him about Lilly, the newest senior member of our family.
Through life’s circumstances, my wife and I adopted Lilly from a potential neglect situation. She is a very sweet black lab that is almost 14 years old, which is 98 years old in dog years. She has a variety of old age health issues, such as trouble breathing and walking. When we take her to the vet and wait for the comment that we may have to put her down, the vet just tells us that a sign of total decline will be when she stops eating. This dog eats like a horse. When I think of Lilly and my donor who loves senior dogs, I wondered if supporters across the country love their animals and support animal causes, such as the Humane Society, in a major philanthropic way.
The Humane Society of the U.S. was founded in 1954 to confront cruelty of all animals. The organization confronts animal fighting, puppy mills, factory farming and wildlife trade. They seek to pass anticruelty laws in every nation. This organization and their affiliates care for more than 100,000 animals each year through rescue teams, sanctuaries and wildlife centers. They provide free or reduced cost services for low-income pet owners and provide other life-saving programs. The mission of the Humane Society of the U.S. is to celebrate animals and confront cruelty. According to their 2016 IRS Form 990, the organization generated $112 million in contributions and $126 million in 2015.
In the article titled, “Why We Give to Animal Charities,” the author noted that between three and four million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the U.S. Many individuals that support animal rights efforts want to give to causes personal to them and to those where they feel they are making a difference. Donors to animal causes love animals because animals touch their hearts in deep and meaningful ways. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, for example, many people refused rescue and risked death rather than to abandon their pets. Animal welfare organizations stepped in during these disasters and saved at least 10,000 companion animals.
According to the article, research shows that owning a pet increases well-being and longevity. Pets can lower your blood pressure and increase levels of serotonin to help you get more exercise. It also helps to reduce depression and helps mitigate social withdrawal. Through animal interaction programs, animal charities help a variety of people such as seniors, deaf people, abused and abandoned children, and people suffering through cruelty to animals. Donors give to animal causes for a variety of reasons, but the most important reason is complete love for animals and a compelling need to protect and support them as they cannot support themselves.
The Humane Society of Indianapolis, Inc. is supported solely by contributions, grants, bequests, investments, adoption fees and other fees for service. Their philosophy is that their animals do not have an expiration date. They do not put animals down because of space, time or length of stay. They have a “Grey Muzzle” program that supports senior care in dogs. The program provides high quality medical rehabilitation and behavioral treatment, animal care supplies, programs and services for the dogs to remain happy and reduce their stress. One goal of the program is for individuals to adopt senior dogs with special needs. This care reduces unnecessary pet euthanasia rates.
I must admit that, historically, I am not a big dog lover but have grown to love Lilly. This dog, like many other senior dogs, would die without constant care and special attention. My wife is the wonderful primary care giver for Lilly. We both admit that this dog would have already passed on without our help. Through this experience, I can easily see why people would support philanthropy causes related to animals. If you experience this process first hand then you will gain a new appreciation and will open your pocketbook to help support this type of philanthropy.
Giving to the Humane Society and like organizations is literally “giving to the dogs” and other animals. The organization is certainly not “going to the dogs.” All you need to do is to hold a dog and love it. Trust me, you will be hooked and immediately become a new animal program supporter. I now have a better appreciation for the care and concern for senior dogs in this country. If you are looking to adopt a dog, think of helping a senior dog find a home. You will experience a unique sense of joy and satisfaction of welcoming a new family member into your life!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.