The Aspire to Give® Story
Our story evolved from numerous heartfelt and meaningful conversations over ten years. They were conversations with everyday people with generous hearts who shared their unique gifts of time, talents, treasure, and trust with others in the routine of their daily lives.
They lived outside of Richmond, busy with their careers and raising their two daughters. It was 2008, and Greg had a professional financial practice guiding clients into and through retirement. Suzette was a kind and loving kindergarten teacher; whose 5-year-old students were the light of her life! She loved teaching 5-year-old life-learners how to become the next generation – those aspiring philanthropists who would learn, grow, and share with others. Greg and Suzette’s daughters had graduated from college, married, started their families, and lived in the southeast U.S. Like their parents, Suzette’s and Greg’s daughters became teachers. They, too, shared their gifts to inspire and help others achieve their hopes and dreams.
Then it inevitably happened! – the pull of grandchildren and family! Soon, it was too much! Suzette retired from teaching, and Greg and Suzette moved to Auburn, Alabama, to be near family. But wait, there was a dilemma! Greg loved sharing, educating, and advising his clients. How might he continue to serve his clients in Virginia and yet live in Auburn, Alabama? Greg’s Virginia clients were good, caring, and sharing people. They were philanthropically engaged in giving to their families and communities – they were everyday people who wanted to utilize their generous hearts. Several years before COVID, Greg crafted a way to live remotely in Auburn to be near family and continue to serve his clients in Virginia. Greg traveled to Richmond from Auburn several times a year for almost ten years to meet with his clients. During the remainder of the time, he served his clients remotely from Auburn.
Meanwhile, while living in Auburn, Greg became attracted to Auburn University’s Women’s Philanthropy Board (WPB) mission to inspire, educate and empower (primarily) women to become financially independent and serve as mentors for future generations of philanthropists. There was so much in common! After all, many of Greg’s clients in Virginia had experienced traumatic life events such as divorce or the death of a loved one. Greg reached out and became financially supportive and engaged in providing pro-bono financial education for the Women’s Philanthropy Board. Little did Greg know that the seed was planted for a life change in direction and that his many past conversations were the fertilizer for growth.
In about 2017, Greg noticed the word “Advancement” in the title of Auburn University’s “Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies.” He asked himself: “How might we advance philanthropic impact?”. There was a need to do more to help others in a think-different, creative way.
Eventually, the cloudy thoughts of doing more became a much clearer vision. In 2018 Greg realized it was time to retire from his professional practice with an idea to advance philanthropic impact by flipping the “philanthropic script.” Instead of being the object of advice and financial solicitation, the individual becomes an empowered, better philanthropist, equipped with the awareness, knowledge, and tools for a greater purpose of making an impact through sharing.
In 2018 Greg founded Aspire to Give® Academy with the vision to unleash the individual’s potential to give and share socially for the greater good through education. Through education, we release the individual human potential so that we, as aspiring philanthropists, may be the rising tide that lifts all boats. We can collectively share our unique strengths and passions to find societal solutions to our most pressing needs. So, this is our story - with our deep-seated aspiration to give and innate potential, we each can gain personal meaning and make an impact in the lives of others. Like most everything else in life, we just need to learn how.