The Chairman’s Club
Uniting the Community Through Philanthropy
What if there was a way to give back to the community in a much larger way than you thought possible for yourself? What if you could do that all while meeting and connecting with other East Tennessee philanthropists? And what if you knew that nonprofits and the people they serve would be positively impacted with not just a portion, but every dollar of your gift?
It was about four or five years ago when local businessman, Terry Turner, floated the concept out to some of his colleagues. Let’s bring men together in a philanthropic way, he told them, but ensure it was effortless, affordable, and rooted in fellowship. He didn’t have to do much convincing. In no time at all the concept became reality; Turner founded the Chairman’s Club.
Now a 501c3, the premise of the group is that each man involved gives $1,000. The funds are pooled and distributed to nonprofits in much larger sums through a small grant program. “We don’t want to give a little,” Turner says, “We want it to be a substantial gift.” And the nonprofits they select? Ones that empower and provide service to the young people of East Tennessee, such as Emerald Youth Foundation, Joy of Music School, even Shop with a Cop.
So why $1,000? “If I gave $1,000, it wouldn’t mean as much. But if I have 99 guys who are giving $1,000 a year with me, that’s $100,000 a year for charity. We could substantially make a difference.”
One million dollars in 10 years. That’s the goal. And with more than 50 members so far, Turner and his partners in philanthropy are well on their way.
They gave their first grants out to the community in 2016, providing $27,500 to worthy causes. In 2017, that number rose to $65,000 and as they closed out 2018 the interest continued to boom.
“We’re excited about 2019,” Turner says. “We have some good momentum and think we will hit 100 this year and will be able to make those substantial gifts.”
The nonprofits they consider come from suggestions of the club participants. It’s all word of mouth. The nonprofits write small grant proposals which are reviewed by the club’s executive committee. But what happens then? Why a club?
Turner wanted this to be more than giving. He envisioned this club being about fellowship, building bonds amongst those ready and willing to serve and give. Monthly social gatherings with club members and their spouses are a typical part of the year. And monthly Bible study too. “It’s a great opportunity for men to be able to get together in social settings,” Turner says.
And as the Chairman’s Club moves into 2019, the hope is to engage a younger crowd in somewhat of a Junior Chairman’s Club, knowing that many of the club’s participants have sons that want to give. “We’re in the process of developing ideas on how to take in this younger crowd at a lower giving level, but still teach them philanthropy and the importance of giving back,” Turner explains. “The earlier we can start and instill that in our young people, the better we can be.”