Warren Barnett

WTCI Joins the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Celebrating Warren Barnett

WTCI joins the Southeast Tennessee Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in honoring Warren Barnett as Outstanding Philanthropist.  As Board Chair of WTCI, Warren Barnett's leadership helps support the mission of Chattanooga's community PBS station.  WTCI is profoundly grateful for his leadership as Chairman of the Board of Directors and honors his commitment to philanthropy.

Warren Barnett is Founder and President of Barnett & Company and is an alumnus of The McCallie School, the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University.  Barnett is a member of the Downtown Rotary, is an avid supporter of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera (CSO) and is an active supporter of the Association of Visual Arts, Chattanooga Theatre Centre and the national organization Let Them Hear!  WTCI celebrates this award with him and invites you to enjoy his speech as a powerful example of why philanthropy matters.  

We are delighted to be able to share that message with our members.


National Philanthropy Day - Warren Barnett Acceptance Speech

Thank you.   This is not an honor one aspires to.  Instead, it is an honor that is bestowed upon you.  I appreciate it greatly.

People ask me,  "why do you give and support so much?"  I recall a certain Billy Graham joke, in which he says that, in all the funerals in which he has officiated, he has not once ever seen a hearse pulling a U Haul trailer full of money.  

What Billy Graham was saying was, you cannot take your worldly wealth with you.  Not that people have not tried.  The ancient Egyptians buried their kings and queens inside tombs in pyramids.  The bodies of the royals were often placed in boats, and their staff committed mass suicide to be buried with them.  The idea was, the king or queen was to sail off into the afterlife with their buried wealth, with the  staff to command the ship, and attend to the royal's needs.  As any grave digger  knows, that is not the way it works.

So, if you cannot take your worldly wealth with you, you can give it away, either when you are alive or when you die.   Some try to control their wealth from the grave, but we know that does not work.  People and circumstances change, in ways that the dead and their intentions cannot.

So that leaves giving your wealth away when you are alive.  So long as you do not do this to your own detriment, there is great satisfaction in giving.  Giving your wealth away is the closest any person gets to playing God in a benevolent sense.  You help people you do not know, nor may they ever know you. But that is OK.  It takes a mind of a certain size to require that every act of generosity be acknowledged. Acknowledgement is nice, but it is not necessary.  It is the giving that counts, not the acknowledgement.

In a biological sense, I have no children.  But in a way, I do have children,  hundreds of children.  They are aspiring musicians, actors, artists of various media.  They learn from watching public television, or listening to public radio. They are  both fascinated and impacted by sculpture, history, music, and all forms of art.  For some, art may be their outlet, for others their salvation, their ticket to a better world or a better environment. It may be a lifeline to the only environment they can control in their chaotic lives.

I do not know their names, nor do I need to.  They do not know mine, which is fine.  I come from a background of noblesse oblige.  It is a French term. Translated, the term means that to whom much is given, much is expected.  The reality is that we have all been given something, even if only the right to live.  We all need to inspire others to look beyond themselves and see that generosity towards others is generosity of the self.  Whether this is done through volunteerism, which is philanthropy in kind, or through financial support, each of us has the ability to help another.  On such help civilized society is based.  

There are those who, in the name of charity, would take advantage of the good nature of others.  Such people need to be cited for being the parasites they are. Not only do they take from the well-meaning.  They also make others less willing to give, and provide a rationalization for those who do not want to give at all.  It should be a role of this organization to help prosecute those who take the goals of fund raising in vain for personal enrichment, for their own ends.  The credibility of fund raising depends on it, which is to say, the credibility of what you do.

I again thank you for this award.  I think what this organization does is noble.  It is certainly needed.  So many rely on you, the few,  for so much.  Thank you.  Have a good day.

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