This Legacy Foundation Has Become a Major Friend to Dogs and Cats in Two Cities

 photo:  Oliveshadow/shutterstock

photo:  Oliveshadow/shutterstock

When the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust was established after the passing of its namesake, it had some guiding principles. For one, Pulliam wanted the trust in her name to support the two places she called home—Arizona and Indiana.

It was also intended to continue funding causes that Nina Mason Pulliam supported in her lifetime. And Pulliam loved animals. The journalist and newspaper publisher was a big supporter of the environment and nature overall, in fact. 

So the trust has funded animal welfare causes from its start back in 1998, and is now a real force in these two communities’ local philanthropy scenes, especially related to care for domestic animals. The trust has been supporting two, multimillion-dollar initiatives in Phoenix and Indianapolis to reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats. 

In Indianapolis, Pulliam is the lead funder of the "Love Me. Fix Me" Initiative, and committed $1.25 million to this $2 million campaign. Indianapolis has struggled for years with a large stray animal population. Funding goes to a handful of animal nonprofits in the area, including repeat Pulliam grantees FACE (Foundation Against Companion-Animal Euthanasia) and local Humane Society chapters.  

Pulliam was a lead funder of a similar program in the Phoenix metro area, the $6 million Fix.Adopt.Save initiative. The trust committed $2 million to this program, funding grantees like the Human Society, Altered Tails, and the Animal Defense League of Arizona. 

Both programs carry out a combination of spay and neuter surgeries, education for pet owners, and pet adoption drives. Pulliam continues to make grants to the groups involved for work like expansion and renovation of adoption and care facilities, education for low-income pet owners, obedience training, and other ways to minimize stray pets and euthanasia. Non-furry pets also get some love from Pulliam, via repeat grantee the Phoenix Herpetological Society, which rescues reptiles and educates the public about them. 

While pets are a big issue for the trust, most of its funding actually goes toward human services, especially for women, children and families, and to its scholarship program. Its environmental giving has become more sophisticated in recent years, as well, and the trust is becoming prominent in water and rivers issues. In particular, Pulliam has pulled together a collaborative initiative to clean up the White River in Indiana, and it works on water scarcity and the Verde River in Arizona. 

RelatedAn Evolving Regional Funder Focuses in on Rivers

Pulliam’s geographic focus is pretty tightly restricted, but in those two areas, the trust has shown how focused giving in select regions can make a moderate-sized funder quite influential. As the CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation told local news there, Pulliam is a “critical leader in Arizona's philanthropic sector and beyond.”

Another interesting fact about Pulliam is that Nina Mason Pulliam left behind her estate to go toward charitable causes over the span of 50 years. That leaves about 30 more years to disburse assets of around $360 million, which could mean some serious funds headed to pets and pet lovers in the future.