Charitable Giving 1

037: Charitable Giving with Pat Puhl – Part 1

Dec 23, 2020

Charitable giving is more important now than ever before. The challenges, setbacks, and losses caused by COVID-19 have affected not just families and businesses, but the organizations they support as well.

That said, there are a lot of people out there who are rising to the occasion and doing good. One of them is Pat Puhl, who is a co-founder of Families For a Cure, which helps families in need in Columbus, Ohio by supporting cancer research and patient care programs. 

Today, Pat returns to the podcast to talk about operating a sustainable nonprofit in 2020, what he did to ensure that their entire calendar’s worth of fundraising didn’t need to be scrapped or canceled, and the many potential tax benefits available to you when you give to charity.

Here are just a handful of the things that we'll discuss:

  • How Families For a Cure rethought their operations in light of COVID-19.
  • What Families for a Cure did to ensure that they wouldn’t miss major fundraisers for the first time in history.
  • How smart planning helped Families for a Cure give grants and assist patients in need in extraordinarily difficult times. 

Inspiring Quote

  • “If you can keep more of what you make so that you can give more of what you make, let’s go ahead and do it.” – Pat Puhl

Interview Resources


Ed Siddell: All right.


LeAnne Siddell: It’s The Retirement Trainer with Ed Siddell, a podcast about finding ways to help you become financially fit no matter what financial shape you’re in now. The question is, why is charitable giving more important now than ever before? This is LeAnne Siddell and here to help us with all our questions and to give us some guidance to help us stay in the best financial shape possible, The Retirement Trainer, Ed Siddell. Hi, Ed.


Ed Siddell: Hey, good morning, Leanne.


LeAnne Siddell: Good. It’s cold. It’s December, leading up, we got one week till…


Ed Siddell: Snowing.


LeAnne Siddell: One week till Christmas and…


Ed Siddell: Time to get ready for Santa.


LeAnne Siddell: Yeah. And that also brings us to talking about exactly what we’re going to talk about today, charities and people at year end, a lot of us would normally be involved in a lot more than we’re involved this year, but why don’t you give us a little, why is it so important?


Ed Siddell: Well, I mean, as we all know, this between Thanksgiving and the New Year, I mean, it’s the season of giving. To me, it’s just that time of the year in 2020. I mean, this has been more challenging than years passed by, by far. And it’s affected families, businesses. Businesses have shut down, not because they wanted to, but because the government told us that we had to.  Some will never reopen again, estimates are in the tens of thousands.


So, that affects people’s employment and that has had an effect on everything to include charities because, not only are people not able to give, but the strain and stress on charities because people need more help than ever. And so, not to paint a picture of doom and gloom, let’s look at it as the glass is half full. The reason I say this, a lot of people are rising to the occasion. They’re stepping up, they’re helping the food banks because a lot of the shelves are bare. I mean, as a matter of fact, we’re doing the ton of food raise over the last couple of weeks and we’re getting pretty close to raising that 2000 pounds to the local food bank here. And there’s a lot of people out there doing an awful lot of good.


And today, we actually have a guest on our podcast. He’s been here before. Mr. Pat Puhl, welcome. Thank you for joining us again.


LeAnne Siddell: Yes, so nice…


Pat Puhl: Good morning. Thanks for having me.


Ed Siddell: Yeah, absolutely. And not to kind of overstate a little bit, but you and your better half, Shannon, you guys, you’re one of the people that I talked about. You have stepped up but you didn’t just do it this year, you’ve been doing it for well over 13 years. I think actually longer than that, if I remember right. You were on the show this time last year, I think, it was podcast number 12 or 13, or something like that.


And talking about what you guys do, you’re one of the founders of Families for a Cure. And I always kind of explain it and I don’t do it justice, but it’s your kind of like a Local Families for a Cure, or I’m sorry, Make A Wish Foundation but so much more. You do so much more than just make that wish, you help families and in the need in the community, right here in Columbus, Ohio is so great. So, we really appreciate everything that you do and for being here today.


LeAnne Siddell: Thanks for joining us, Pat. How’s everything going?


Pat Puhl: Thank you. Well, doing all right. It is December, as you mentioned, December, it’s cold outside and I’m not sure the last time I left these four walls were, but our family is good, healthy, and blessed and so, I’ll take it.


Ed Siddell: Absolutely. And we’re practicing social distancing. You’re actually joining us by phone today, so there may be some dog barking in the background is that.. do I understand?


LeAnne Siddell: And to add to your many talents, Pat, you coach your kids, so I’m just going to… How are you doing as far, are you still coaching, basketball, soccer?


Pat Puhl: We are. We made it through so the boys each play, one of them a soccer player and one of them do cross country and they both made it to do their fall season and had really good success. So, it’s fun tonight, it was nice to get out and see their play and just be a little bit normal for a while. I know that gets overstated so often, but you don’t realize how much sitting and watching your kids compete is normal.


And then, I also coach basketball at the high school level and we have our first game tomorrow. Our season has been delayed. We knew we were going to play. So, we’re excited about that, like we would normally have started about two weeks ago and for lots of reasons there, we paused and delayed. Our practices have kind of gone from all in to small pods, kind of back in and the last two weeks, we got to go out and that our conference is going to play, so I’m excited. We’ll see them.


Ed Siddell: What conference are you in?


Pat Puhl: We’re in the OCC.


Ed Siddell: Oh, okay. All right. Nice.


Pat Puhl: We’re in the Capital Conference. We’re in what I refer to the gauntlet, we’ve got a lot of competition in our conference.


LeAnne Siddell: Yeah, you do. And I know that’s a great gift, that they’re going to have a season. I’m extremely excited for you.


Pat Puhl: Absolutely.


LeAnne Siddell: Pat, I want you to do me a favor. Why don’t you do me a favor and explain to everybody because again, I know, people that are familiar with Families for a Cure, I just want to touch base on those that don’t know Families for a Cure, who you are, what you do?


Pat Puhl: Absolutely. So, Families for a Cure is a volunteer-run nonprofit that’s based in Columbus, Ohio. We support cancer research and patient care programs. And we do that in a couple different ways. One of the things that we’re really good at doing is raising money through events that we have with our supporters, we use that money to then partner with other organizations in the area who have staff and have direct connection to cancer patients directly to fund some of their programs.


We try and really focus our work with them on startup programs or programs that they need more funding to maintain and make sure we deliver the benefits they’re promising to cancer patients on it from that perspective. And what we try and do is really look on the experience side of the giving there, working with groups there, so we can help provide relief to family, whether it’s sending them off to a camp or providing holiday party or some summer fun party there, taking from busy days. We’re looking for organizations that are looking to do on the experience side.


We also partner with a lot of the research organizations. We’ve got a couple of great hospitals here in Columbus, Ohio, The Ohio State, James Cancer Hospital, and then Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where we’re doing research grants with them. We also do some work with St. Jude’s, where we’re funding research and patient work on the care side or we’re working directly with patients and make sure they’re getting the support that they need there. And then, as you mentioned, we’re kind of like a Make a Wish. Because we’re volunteer-run, we’ve chosen the model to partner with other organizations and work on just that donor designated gift there and controlling how we’re giving the monies that we can see the benefits there.


A couple years back, we decided to start our own program, we call it the Allison Orlando Wood Patient Experience Grant and ultimately, what that is, is that we offer or people can recommend or nominate a cancer patient who they want to provide an experience to and then we’ll work to provide that experience to them. So, some gifts that we’ve done. The family is going over to Germany because the father of the family there, the cancer patient is going over there for a trial program to help with his cancer and treat there. The whole family’s going over there. We sent them, experiencing on tours and soccer stadiums and some cool things while they’re there.


So, we really are like an additive component when we talk about experience grants and things that people are doing. They’re going on a vacation and we make it 10 times better. And that’s how we try to use the dollars to create those experiences. So, sometimes we’re funding the whole experience. It just really depends upon what folks want to do, but that’s what we use with the Allison Orland Wood Patient Experience Grant. And we do those programs throughout the entire year. Thank you.


Ed Siddell: And full disclosure, we actually met you guys through because of family and friends that you helped in the past. And so, we’ve personally been positively affected by Families for a Cure. So, we know firsthand the good works that you guys do. And so, if you don’t mind, just kind of tell us, this year, I know it’s been a struggle for everyone, one of your biggest fundraisers and passions is the golf outing and it was a little bit different this summer than in years past. And I know you’ve had to curtail a lot of other things. So, what have you done this year? What are you doing a little bit differently? And what’s the impact that this whole thing has had on you guys?


Pat Puhl: And the last couple years have actually been really interesting to go back and the conversation you and I had last year was about the tax law changes and the impact of that. So, we had some declining donors because of that and there were larger donors there. So, going back to 2019, we’ve had a couple challenging years because we’ve the opportunity to fundraise differently or raise money differently, it’s been out there, but the COVID situation has been nothing more than a nightmare from a nonprofit perspective. And I think I’m speaking from every nonprofit out there because we’re so event driven in a lot of components. And the work that we do is personal, one to one, we’re working with cancer patients.


So, you think about the fundraising side, I can’t get together with somebody. That’s a challenge because I’m not just asking to give me straight money and there’s not necessarily anything to it. So, it’s really the good-hearted spirit folks want to be there, which there’s a lot of people out there that can do that, but we’ve seen significant market fluctuations this year, unemployment is going down. So, you factor all that stuff in there. It’s really hard to say, let’s hold an event. We know that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but it’s going to be okay.


So, we paused a couple of times, but we did have our golf outing this year. And historically, our golf outing is a morning flight, an afternoon flight, and then a private concert in the evening. And our team struggled to do it. We do the golf outing in August. So, it was kind of at the point where the COVID was picking up and you saw some cases of counts rising and the government making decisions to share improved sizes of this are permitted. And you can do this and we used to know what to do.


We made the decision to do an afternoon golf flight because it’s outside. We talked with the golf course that we had some socially distant practices in place and provided hand sanitizer, we gave everybody masks, we eliminated the indoor interactions there. We modified our dinner so that people could get it to go or if they wanted to stay, like we had table spaced way out and used indoor facilities and outdoor facilities just to see them. And then, we didn’t do a party afterwards. It was like, here’s our golf outing. Thanks for coming. We’ll see you next year.


One of the ways we actually do is we flipped how we do our banquet. We used to have a big banquet afterwards and we decided to do it outdoors before we went on the golf course. So, it was weird this year because there was no interaction. Our interaction was you welcome everybody to the event. So, we really couldn’t walk them on because we couldn’t do a welcome line because it then kind of created an unsocial existence experience there. So, it’s kind of like, Hi, how are you? Here’s your cart over here. Please go over there. And we’re going to get started quickly and then get you on the golf course where you and your peers can be a part of the course and manage social distancing.


So, it’s been weird. And you just don’t know when we were risky about it. So, one of the things we didn’t do was really promote it through social media, but we talked about things like, really the golf outing, but there are no pictures that are going to be posted for a while afterwards. And we monitored, do we have a breakout? Did anybody contact over there? And we were prepared to then do some contact tracing after that. Thank goodness, we were blessed for we didn’t have an issue there, but it was a real concern. And we were really concerned about doing the outings because we weren’t sure if we should or shouldn’t, we didn’t have great guidance, didn’t know what to do, but we knew we had to have that.


We want to keep the experience going on. So, we’re fearful that if we didn’t do it this year, hey, it would have a huge financial impact on the organization, that the largest fundraiser that we do and be if you miss a year, which you hadn’t done ever. We’ve done a 17-year run, like what happens next year if people come back? Do they remember it, like you have some real-hard conversation?


Ed Siddell: Well, Leanna and I were talking about it actually during the event with the Thomases, that was our bubble, our foursome anyways, but you guys really did a good job, the social distancing, the logistics involved. I mean, normally, the logistics, it’s amazing how you guys pull it off anyways, but to see how you were able to do it and remain within the guidelines and the rules and keep everybody safe, it was pretty amazing. And it was different for sure, but Leanne and I are forced and we play value golf, so we definitely got our donations worth.


Pat Puhl: Value golf might have been the best thing to do this year.


Ed Siddell: Absolutely.


Pat Puhl: The restrictions we’ve been under.


Ed Siddell: Make the most of it.


LeAnne Siddell: We always usually get that award that you give out to the one with the highest score.


Ed Siddell: Yeah. So, the trophy that we got our first year was everyone got a calculator, very large calculator because our score was so high, you needed one to add above the holes.


Pat Puhl: You’ve defended it well and you’ve let other people win. That’s the problem.


Ed Siddell: I’m a giver.


LeAnne Siddell: How did it end up? How did the golf outing end up for you guys?


Ed Siddell: Was it a success? Because I know, there were a lot more people that wanted to participate but it was kept. So, that was kind of a give and take.


Pat Puhl: Yeah, so the pleasant reasons that we filled out the golf outing, we actually had 144B two foursomes per hole and we were over 144 and we intentionally did it there. I think we had 156 golfers, if I recall it correctly. So, a couple extra holes I threw on there, but we weren’t sure if people are going to even come. So, we were grateful that people came and we sold out the event. From a financial perspective, it was what we want to do.


Well, goal number one was to have the event. We knew if we had the event, we wouldn’t lose money. So, it was to have the event and raise some money. From that perspective, it was good, but fundraising for sponsorships was really hard. And one of the things that we talked about very intentionally this year was our sponsors have been great to us throughout the years. We’ve always promoted them.


So, our sponsors from a business perspective need us more this year than they ever have in the past. So, we softball reached out and asked for sponsorship and share that we’re doing the events. We chose not to go to like some of our restaurant partners in fact, but what we did is we acted as if they gave us mine this year and promoted them all the same and talked about that. And those that gave, we bumped up a little bit and put them in a different tier to make sure we highlighted them above all the other ones who did not give a balance equity there, but we’ve really tried to promote them because without them, we wouldn’t be where we’re at. Now, the table has kind of then flipped, like what can we do to help them? How can we drive business back to them and give them value, because they’ve helped us grow over time and helped so many people over the years?


LeAnne Siddell: Well, it is a family community that you hang around with your sponsors, everybody that is involved with Families for a Cure, I mean, you’ve touched our lives in many ways, all of us, just by watching what you’ve done in the community. So, I can easily see how it’s always been a mutual relationship between those that are sponsors and those that are part of this community and that you’ve effectively created here with Families for a Cure. It’s really incredible to have watched and been part of it, but again, now we’re in a position where we want to bring a little bit more attention to the fact that people…


Ed Siddell: Families for a Cure and all charities, especially the community-based ones because I know that a lot of your efforts are with a lot of the local charities, I mean, you guys, just so everyone knows, you are a registered 501(c)(3) and really what that means is you’re registered with the IRS as a nonprofit. You’re right here in Hilliard, Ohio and you truly are a community-based charity. You live here, you work here. And what’s really cool about you guys, is that your volunteers, you, Shannon, and everyone that sits on the board, all the money with the exception of the website, keeping the lights on and those kinds of things, all the money goes right back to the families that you’re trying to help.


Pat Puhl: That’s correct. We really try to be very efficient in what we’re doing and how we spend the dollars. The bulk of the work that we do is event based. So, when we run an event, there’s obviously a cost to that, but outside of that, our administrative costs are pretty low, comparatively. It’s just the way that we’re structured. And we’ve talked about modifying that structure, that may be part of the long-term growth plans there as we continue to think about the legacy. And as the board rolls off, like what’s next? Some of that may have to change, but today, it’s honestly, a volunteer-run and so we try and string it all together in a very tight budget.


Ed Siddell: And that speaks volumes for you guys and all community-based charities because you do it because you have a passion. And you’re volunteers on top of everything else that you’re doing, coaching, raising your own family and taking care of your own family’s needs, you’re trying to help others out there. So, in this year, because your event is driven, are the demands the same this year as they have been in the past? Are they a little bit higher? Have you noticed the change?


Pat Puhl: 100% notice to change. So, the one thing I didn’t share, that you asked about the golf outing there and so, going into the golf outing, we had committed $70,000 of grants to local partners and that does not include any one off, so we do some of our own Allison Orlando Wood Patient Experience grant. So, starting out the year, we had committed in true 2020 fashion, everything is better off.


We modified our grant process this past year, so that we interviewed organizations at the beginning of the year in January and we committed to funding programs. We did a vote and vetted it and for the most part, I think, 90% of those that came in there, we voted and approved grants that day. A couple of them had to go back for more information and more details, but come January, we had committed to writing $70,000 worth of checks. Come March is like, Wait a second, we can’t do our 5k, how are we going to do sponsors?


June rolls, so we have a golf outing. We have a golf outing, like how are we going to raise money? We’ve started to write checks to organizations. Right now, we’re spending our reserves because we have no revenue coming in. We had the golf outing, one of the things that we looked at there, I looked at was like, we got $70,000 of expenditure or not, like how do we raise $70,000 at a golf event where you can’t do? You’re limited as to what you can do? Can you even do that? Because the golf outings we talked about is the biggest event and we rely on sponsorships and our sponsorships apply to all of our events, but that applies to an event that we have an auction like I mentioned, private concert in the evenings and golf throughout the day, all the contests, the raffles that happened there. It’s a big moneymaker.


It would clearly in a normal year, cover those expenses where for the rest of the year, everything else is pure profit, but this year, it was like, all right, it was pushing 60, great. We’re 20,000 in a whole. All right, we’re getting closer. And so, it was a different year because we’ve never had to think about that. Now, fortunately, I say fortunately, because sometimes we do things and we do them really well and they weren’t intended to. Over the years, we’ve been trying to build towards our first goal to raise a million dollars for the year 2021. So, we did that in 2018, but over the years, we’ve been putting money away so that when we get to our million-dollar mark or near 20, which will be in a couple years, what kind of splash can we do?


So, we’re building a reserve to do something big. And the good news is we have a little bit of a reserve. So, even if we weren’t able to do an event this year, we would have been able to pay those grants that we promised the beginning of the year. Financially, we wouldn’t have been in an awesome position, but we were going to hold those grants and we’ve gone back several years in our savings goals. So, it’s really our planning in the past that helped us get through this year and then, the grace of people has been amazing, the generosity of people has been amazing.


This year, given the entire situation, the fact that we’ve really only been able to do two of them. The golf outing was one and we spent a toy drive, which is not necessarily revenue generating, it’s more of a gift giving opportunity there. It was last month and we had a huge outpouring from the community. It’s been amazing.


LeAnne Siddell: Well, again, I think it’s really important that things like what we’re talking about right now, we get that information out there. And I want to make sure that if people want to get a hold of you, Pat, or learn more information that they can do that, how do they get ahold of you?


Pat Puhl: Couple keywords, we have a website that I have information out there and there’s a Contact Us form out there. Our web address is and familiesforacure is all one word. Our primary social media outlet is on Facebook and we have a Facebook page out there, facebook/com/FamiliesforaCure. And then, if they want to reach out to me, they can absolutely do that, my contact information by email is And I’m happy to have any conversation that you would like me for virtual coffee, whatever we’re allowed to do these days, I’m always up for having a conversation about the nonprofit and the work that we’re doing.


Ed Siddell: Pat, it’s so awesome. And I know people get tired of me saying this all the time, especially I’ve probably said it a half dozen times this year on different podcasts and in speaking engagements, we’re all going to have to look back on 2020, whether it’s six months from now, six years from now, 60 years from now, and really figure out who we became during this time period. Did we help people? Did we encourage people? What did we do to better those people around us and in the community?


And it’s people like you that are kind of stepping up that are really making a huge difference. So, it’s times like this that we really need to give back, for those that have been fortunate and haven’t had the devastating financial effects or health effects that 2020 has brought to kind of do what they need to do and help others.


Pat Puhl: Yeah, I totally agree and I appreciate you saying that. We’ve definitely thought about that. You and I, the three of us are talking, but I tell you what, we have an amazing board comprised of 10 people that just dedicate their days to working on the nonprofit and thinking through what we can do and providing great guidance to us as we think about it. Now, our situation, our opportunities, how do we move forward? How do we sustain? It’s really been a year of sustaining profits to the groups. I’ve mentioned, fortunately, we have the money to commit to our obligations this year, but it gets challenging next year. So, how will we do in the situations and the things that happened?


Our board is amazing, the community of supporters that we have both in Central Ohio and beyond the borders. We do have support outside of the borders, it’s awesome to see, every time I get a surprise check or anytime that we receive a donation, whether it’s been somebody we know or somebody we don’t know, it puts a smile on our face and that people are just looking for ways to connect and are willing to still give, even though they may be in a different spot than they were just a year ago. That’s a true blessing we have.


And the toy drive that we have this year, it was the biggest toy drive we’ve ever had. And the event was not an in-person event, it was a drive-through event. So, we collected toys for a couple weeks in December and we had 20 large moving boxes, full of toys. There’s a lot of toys that didn’t fit into there and it just packed the back of our moving van. It was an awesome sight to see.


Ed Siddell: That is awesome.


Pat Puhl: It was. It’s a Christmas miracle this year.


Ed Siddell: Yep. It truly is.


LeAnne Siddell: Well, again, thank you very, very much for the time today, Pat, but I want to add, charitable planning is a big part of what we do, our retirement fitness plan centers around that, as well, why don’t you explain a little bit about how we help families meet those charitable inclinations?


Pat Puhl: Yeah, I mean, there’s so many different ways of doing it to benefit, those organizations, those 501(c)(3) is community based, larger, as well as your churches is, as well. And depending on your age, there’s different strategies, whether it’s a qualified charitable distribution, where the funds come directly out of your IRA and so, it doesn’t count against your Social Security. So, there’s a possibility that’s not going to be taxed, it’s not going to affect the means-based testing on your Medicare B, C, and D. And our whole thing is, look, if you have a charitable inclination, you want to give, you might as well make the most of it and use the rules that the IRS has given us and get the biggest bang for your buck. And I hate to cheapen it like that, but if you can keep more of what you make so that you can give more of what you make, let’s go ahead and do it.


LeAnne Siddell: Well, if you want Ed’s help or you want to learn a little bit more about what we do here at EGSI, please give us a call at 614-526-4118 or you can reach us at or you can visit our website at Thanks, Ed.


Ed Siddell: All right. Thanks, LeAnne. Pat, thank you for joining us.


Pat Puhl: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to catch up to you guys and share what Families for a Cure do. I appreciate your support.


Ed Siddell: Absolutely. Merry Christmas.


LeAnne Siddell: Merry Christmas.


Ed Siddell: And a happy and prosperous 2021.


Pat Puhl: Merry Christmas to you all as well.


LeAnne Siddell: Thank you so much.


Pat Puhl: Yeah, it’ll be better.




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