You gotta listen to the mule

I had the pleasure of spending time today with James Narron, our former NCCF statewide board chairman, at a meeting of the NC Planned Giving Council. We met at the Emerging Issues Forum facilities on NC State’s campus, where I also had the opportunity to hear from Anita Brown Graham. So don’t mind me; I am pretty fired up!  

“I am just a small town lawyer from a one horse town.” I have heard Mr. Narron describe himself in this way too many times to count. Ohh yes, Mr. Narron, you are from a small town in North Carolina, but let’s not allow that fool us. Smart as a whip, sly, funny and good to his core, Mr. Narron is an incredibly talented and successful attorney, which of course he won’t tell you. And perhaps one of his greatest gifts is as a story teller. He can light up a room with the possibility of what can be. He lit up the room today with the possibility — and promise — of charitable giving.

Some of the stories Mr. Narron shared with us today were about how to support and ignite the flame of charitable intent with your clients. The spark might already be there and just need some encouragement. The intent may need a little help, possibly some suggested avenues and inspiration to reach potential.  He talked about helping folks reach their ownconclusions about the power and promise of philanthropy and defined our roles as helpers in this process.

Mr. Narron explained that in establishing an endowment, one person can do great things that ensure permanent good in a community. Often we do not see ourselves in that way: capable of creating lasting and permanent improvements for the good of place. But an endowment has the potential to continue for years and years in the future, with the power to effect lasting change even forever.  

He also talked about the intensely personal side of philanthropy. How charitable giving often meets a personal need or desire. This is the role of a charitable advisor: to understand these needs and to provide the forum to talk about these things. Those of us who serve in the role of charitable advisors pride ourselves on providing a safe place to have these conversations with you.

Mr. Narron also told a story that I had not heard before. This happened when he was 10 years old and involved a mule named “Old Gray,” his father, a plow, a chain and a tobacco field. I can never do the story justice, so suffice it to say that the moral of the story is: “You gotta listen to the mule!”