The Gift of Giving

By Susan Blair, East Tennessee Foundation’s Administrative Assistant

Growing up in East Tennessee, our family was far from wealthy, but we wanted for little. Our parents lived frugally, and when it came to giving, I more often saw them give of their time and talents, rather than their treasures, especially my mother. Even into her 80s, she did as much as she could, even with her limited vision, to serve the community, mostly through her church. Even so, giving didn’t come naturally to me, I confess. In fact, while living away from East Tennessee for many years, my only real experience was with the Combined Federal Campaign.

After coming home to live, the volunteer spirit kicked in, and I also began to serve the community through my church and non-profits that spoke to my passion, but still hadn’t discovered the real secret of giving. That happened during a capital campaign at my church, when I was invited to a meeting apparently for those with the potential to give a substantial gift (as I was to discover). I went into the meeting with a determined mindset of exactly what my gift would be, not to be deterred. When I left, however, my mind had been radically changed.  And once that decision was made, the floodgates of giving were open for me. That’s the secret of giving – the more you give, the more you want to give.

Now, as a single person with a modest inheritance from those frugal parents, but no heirs, I find myself wondering how best to put that gift to work. As the years ahead seem to come faster and faster, I still support my passions with focus and intent. But I am still seeking a way to make a meaningful, but probably anonymous, legacy, and my ideas change from week to week. Thankfully, I know that in East Tennessee Foundation, I have a philanthropic partner who will help me focus those plans and ensure the best way to make dreams come true for those who come after me.

And, in giving, I have learned that it really is true: “it is more blessed to give than to receive

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