The Heart of Giving

When Peter and Karen Gabler got married, they had to start making a lot of decisions together, as all newlyweds do.

Where would they spend holidays? Where did they want to send their kids to school? How much were they going to save for retirement?

Peter and Karen Gabler

Peter and Karen Gabler

Many of those questions were fairly easy to answer as a couple, Peter said, “but what we didn’t do right away was get our charitable contributions in line.” Peter and Karen both care deeply about giving back to their community, but they discovered they each had their own ideas about which causes to support.

Carving out time to plan their giving was also a challenge. The Gablers have three young children, not to mention their jobs, church, and a host of other volunteer commitments. As Karen put it, “If something’s not on fire at our house, it’s not getting attended to.” The Gablers didn’t want their charitable giving to fall between the cracks, so—just as they would consult a lawyer about writing a will—they reached out to a Philanthropic Advisor at the Minneapolis Foundation. Without professional support, “We knew that we were not going to be able to have the powerful experience that we are hoping to have,” Karen said.

“By sitting down with a Philanthropic Advisor, we were really able to figure out, what are the areas that we’re both passionate about?” Peter said. “Once we figured that out, it was a lot easier for both of us.”

“By sitting down with a Philanthropic Advisor, we were really able to figure out, what are the areas that we’re both passionate about?” Peter said. “Once we figured that out, it was a lot easier for both of us.”

When he and Karen met with their advisor, “She listened to what our needs were, she listened to what we hoped to get out of (our giving), and she listened to where our values stood,” Karen said. “From there, she helped to suggest some organizations that she thought we would get excited about.”

One issue that they realized they both cared about was early childhood education. “We saw how powerful and useful those classes were for our family,” Peter said. The Gablers decided that they wanted to share that opportunity with others. To help them choose a specific program to support, their Philanthropic Advisor arranged for them to visit a local nonprofit with a colleague who focuses on education issues.

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“The knowledge base that comes along with the staff of the Minneapolis Foundation is really unbelievable,” said Peter, adding that it’s important to him to see that a nonprofit is efficient and well-run.

“The knowledge base that comes along with the staff of the Minneapolis Foundation is really unbelievable,” said Peter, adding that it’s important to him to see that a nonprofit is efficient and well-run. “They really understand what makes a program successful, and that gives us the confidence that we’re making the right decisions.”

In addition to identifying priority causes that they wanted to support through their Donor Advised Fund, the Gablers also found that they wanted to leave a portion of their philanthropic dollars in a bank account for the things that just pop up. “You always want to buy poinsettias from the kid next door who’s trying to raise money for the volleyball team, or support your friend who’s doing a three-day cancer walk,” Peter said.

The Gablers are modest about their giving; they know they don’t have the resources to single-handedly eliminate any large global problem. Still, that doesn’t diminish their drive to do what they can to help. “It’s nice to know that the dollars we’re investing in this community have real impact, and are going to organizations that really have the ability to move the needle,” Peter said.

Down the road, Peter and Karen look forward to learning about more organizations that they might want to support. As time passes, they hope to be able to give more. And as their children get older, the Gablers are excited to include them in conversations about giving as a family, Karen said. “We hope that the Minneapolis Foundation can help us through that process and introduce us to some organizations that our kids would have an interest in.”

Visit the Family Philanthropy Resource Center to learn more about how the Minneapolis Foundation helps families bring focus, passion, and strategy to their giving.