With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we wanted to share a very touching letter Phinney’s recently received from Elizabeth, a woman who, along with her pets, we have had the pleasure of helping over the years. We are also furever grateful to Elizabeth who has opened her heart up to being a cat mom to a bunch of kitties when they needed her most. We hope you will enjoy hearing Elizabeth’s inspiring words as much as we have.
And, we want to wish all the moms out there—whether your kids have hands and feet, paws and tails, feathers and beaks, or scales and gills—a Happy Mother’s Day!
Dear Phinney’s Friends,
I have been so, so lucky in the past 15 or so years to have had the good fortune to be associated with Phinney’s Friends. Not only has Phinney’s taken care of my many veterinarian bills, often for unexpected reasons or emergencies, but I am so grateful for the MANY older cats that Phinney’s have entrusted me with so they could happily live out their days with comfort and with love.
The cats have for the most part have been someone’s beloved pet but have been left without a home most often due to the owners illness or death. They come frightened and confused at their loss, but soon settle in and I believe they are grateful and thankful that they are here.
My apartment is small but these kitties feel safe and quickly are contented members of my small family. When the weather is appropriate they enjoy the fully fenced in small porch where they bask in the sun and play catch the shadows. What a joy to watch them.
My current “child” is Oliver, a very special ginger tabby who is very talkative and asks for his food, for me to come to bed at night, or especially for his nightly brushing, a ritual he enjoys almost every night.
Again, thanks Phinney’s for allowing me the privilege of caring for these very special cats. Be assured they are well loved.
In fiscal year 2020, Phinney’s volunteers responded to roughly 1,200 requests for help over the phone, via email, and through social media!
A typical assignment for a Phinney’s volunteer might include finding foster care for pets whose people are injured or sick, delivering pet food and supplies, walking dogs, or patiently listening to someone who just needs to talk through how they’ll manage their pet’s quality of life despite the challenges they face.
A lot of the time, all it takes is some words of encouragement and helping a pet parent come up with a plan. There are times when the solution is for Phinney’s to pay a costly vet bill or foster the pet for days, weeks, or months to make sure a beloved pet doesn’t have to be surrendered. And, everything Phinney’s volunteers do is in furtherance of this mission to extend a helping hand to pet parents in need.
There’s also a lot of “behind the scenes” work that goes on, too. There are many opportunities to contribute to areas like public relations, photography, graphic design, web development, writing content, marketing, fundraising, and event planning. We have also had licensed accounting and tax, legal, and veterinary professionals donate their time to help ensure that our business practices meet applicable financial reporting and legal and regulatory requirements.
“Phinney’s volunteers have such unique and diverse skillsets and interests and getting to know what they would like to do and then seeing them do it is really an inspiration,” says President Daniela Caride, who herself started out as a volunteer with the organization in 2007. “As an all-volunteer nonprofit, we can 100% say that it is because of our volunteers that we are able to continually serve pets and their people here in Massachusetts.”
But, COVID has put a strain on Phinney’s resources. “We know there are a lot more people out there struggling because they lost their jobs, got sick from COVID, or need to care for someone who’s ill, and we want to be able to help as many of them as possible,” Daniela said. “Bigger demand for Phinney’s services means we could really use more volunteers who want to contribute as case coordinators,” she added. The role requires someone who’s organized and who’s up for the challenge of helping people come up with solutions to address their concerns. This can be a very rewarding because it takes courage and creativity and gives the volunteer the chance to be involved with a particular person and their pet(s) from the start when they reach out for help straight through the resolution of the issue, Daniela says.
If you or someone you know would like to volunteer with Phinney’s, please visit phinneys.org/volunteer. To everyone who’s ever answered the call to become involved in community service, Phinney’s thanks you! And, of course, we’d like to dedicate this Bark Tweet Meow to our amazing volunteers and our volunteer social media manager, Erika, who shared with us a sweet photo of her and Mack, her beloved dog, for this post!
One VOLUNTEEr's Why
“As a dog mom myself, I would do anything to keep my pup safe, healthy and happy. Last year it became clear this pandemic was going to stick around for a while, I began looking for ways to give back to the community and help ensure other families and their pets had the support they needed during this difficult time. The more I learned about Phinney's, the more I wanted to become part of this important group of volunteers that is doing such incredible work right here in my own backyard.”
—Erika, Social Media Manager Volunteer
When thinking about what charities to give to it's important to have confidence that what you're giving is valued and is being put to good use.
1) Look up tax returns on the IRS website. By law, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits must make their exemption application and annual tax returns available for public inspection, and they are all online on the IRS website. Search for the charity of your choice here: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search. Phinney's, for instance, lists its tax exempt number at the bottom of its homepage for easy lookup.
2) Check the organization’s website or other marketing materials to see their mission, and then research if their expenditures align. One way to find out if things line up is to request a nonprofit’s annual report. Many nonprofits feature them on their website. Phinney’s Annual Report provides a succinct way for us to share important information on the good we do.
Phinney’s most recent (2019-2020) Annual Report notes that our volunteers responded to approximately 1,200 requests for help over the phone, via email, or through social media. We paid $61,501 toward vet visits for ill pets and an additional $25,983 on annual pet wellness checks, tests, and medications. We also spent $23,499 on pet supplies for dozens of families in need, which equals about seven tons of food! In all, 71.4% of Phinney’s expenditures went to veterinary care, 19.2% paid for pet supplies, and we spent just 5% and 4.4% on operational and fundraising costs, respectively.
3) Check to see if others recognize the nonprofit’s contributions. Sites like GreatNonProfits, which curates client, volunteer, and community endorsements, can provide a treasure trove of reviews and other insights into how volunteers, donors, and others within the community view a nonprofit.
Recently, Great NonProfits recognized Phinney’s as a Top-Rated NonProfit for 2021. We are so honored (and moved!) by the stories donors and volunteers have shared about their experiences with Phinney’s. To read their stories, visit Great NonProfits.
What’s above isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but following these steps can go a long way toward ensuring that you’re giving with confidence to a cause.