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Compass Society: Amanda and Larry Lowe

“My earliest memories of giving are from the pink offering envelopes that were ready to go every Sunday morning that I went to church with my dad. He never did anything with a huge flourish, always quietly, but I remember those envelopes being filled out before we left the house. He was very intentional about giving regularly to our church.
As Larry and I got older and became in charge of our own money, we had to decide where that money should go. Of course there were the must do’s like bills and savings. Giving our money away was hard to begin with because it just felt like so much we needed. But after sitting in a small group and listening to another couple share their journey with tithing ten percent before anything else was paid, we began to practice giving at least that much as often as we could. So that was our standard practice. As we continued to grow, we would have some financial gifts come our way or a significant bonus from work, and our first decision became where do we give the first ten percent of this gift?

As our kids got older, Larry’s parents started the ‘Give One, Get One.’ practice each Christmas:  Give to a nonprofit with a letter explaining why you chose that nonprofit to support, then get your Christmas present. Each year the kids write a letter to their chosen organization explaining why they have picked that particular organization. And it sometimes comes with a little gnashing of teeth from our children, who cannot give to the same organization two years in a row. But, it sure is worth it as a parent to see the fruits of their labor. Whether in reading the thank you note Claire received this year from Fantasy Playhouse praising her for gifts on and off stage, or overhearing a board member from United Soccer Club thank Josh on the sidelines of a soccer game for his gift and praise the decision of giving back to a program that gave so much to him, or listening to Claudia explain her decision to donate to St. Jude’s after seeing firsthand the effects that cancer has on classmates and siblings who have lost someone.

I thank my Mom and Dad for modeling the discipline of giving back. It is difficult to break the frame of thinking you aren’t in a position to give. Giving role models like you have made a deep impact on our relationship with our resources.” -Amanda Lowe

“Amanda and I were introduced to Melissa Thompson and team at the Community Foundation in 2015. At that time, I was part of the executive team at GATR Technologies, and we were in the process of selling the company. My parents were also long time partners with the Community Foundation, so I had some pretty good coaching on the tactical and strategic benefits of partnering with them. Tactically, we opened a donor advised fund to offset the gains from selling the company. The fund is a fantastic instrument that allowed us to receive the full tax benefits of donating with one lump sum donation in the year we set up the fund. The fund is also brilliant on the deployment side. There is no time limit to grant writing on the deployment side. The fund also allows you to make grants anonymously or with full identity. The flexibility of the donor advised fund has changed the way we give.

I’m also a big fan of the strategic benefits of working with the Community Foundation. Amanda and I have supported the Compass Society from its beginning. The Compass Society focuses on projects with a long time horizon – ones that will transform our community for generations. The 50% now, 50% later philosophy allows for half of the grant money to be deployed annually through grants within a quality of life framework that spans many areas of need across our community. The other half goes into an endowment that will fund grants long into the future.

There are two primary reasons why I’m compelled to support the Compass Society:

  1. don’t believe we are self-made. A lot of times we want to personally take credit for our professional successes, and we forget to acknowledge the incredible infrastructure of this city that enabled that success. From the talent the city attracts, to the professional services organizations that advise us, to the peer groups and mentors that sharpen our ideas, to the infrastructure that allows commerce to flow. These elements do not just organically show up. It takes incredible strategic planning from leaders in the city. Supporting the Compass Society is one way we feel we are giving back to the city that enabled our business to be successful.
  2. Partnering with other philanthropic visionaries exponentially grows our impact to the community. There is only so far a single vision can go. I like the idea of collaborating with other people that love this community as much as we do.

I’d like to invite anyone who feels as we do to dream and collaborate with all of us in the Compass Society, and to make a generational impact for everyone who calls Greater Huntsville home.” -Larry Lowe