(Aug. 1, 2022) The list of local organizations that Belinda and Calvin Anderson have contributed their time and expertise to is extensive, to say the least. Belinda, a retired airline executive, is or has been on the boards of the Overton Park Shell, Leadership Memphis, and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, among others. Just some of the boards that Calvin, retired senior vice president of corporate affairs and chief of staff for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, currently serves or has served on are Memphis River Parks Partnership, New Memphis Institute, and Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.
And that’s just board service. Take into account the organizations that they also support financially, like the Mid-South Food Bank and BRIDGES, and ask their favorite. “That’s like asking, ‘which is your favorite child?’” Belinda exclaimed. “We give a lot, but I still feel like the more you give, the more you get.”
Each of these benefactors came from humble beginnings, but each saw early examples of the power of generosity and the obligation to give to those in need. Belinda, raised in Columbia, Tennessee, and Indianapolis, saw her parents and grandparents give through church and volunteered with them, even in young childhood. Growing up in Memphis, Calvin’s first introduction to any culture of giving was through church tithing. “Even with meager means, can I be of assistance to others?” he recalled as a lesson he absorbed from his family.
That multi-generational legacy of giving is one they have instilled in their two, now-grown daughters, who share their parents’ passion for giving back. The family meets annually to decide, together, where their interests and passions lie and where they want to give.
Decades of professional and personal involvement in initiatives and causes across the community have given the Andersons a seasoned and informed perspective. “Time is the most precious commodity right now, which we like to budget,” said Calvin. Belinda added, “At one time we were donating a lot and giving a lot of time and effort. As we’ve aged, we’re more strategic about what we’re involved in or want to be involved in.”
How to choose among so many worthy causes? What drives them to invest time and dollars into different organizations? “Trust,” Belinda said, simply. “I have to be able to trust that the organization is going to do what they say they’re going to do,” serving a direct need and demonstrating impact in fulfilling its mission.
Trust was also the byword that led the Andersons to open a donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. Calvin remarked, “When I ran the foundation for BlueCross BlueShield, I worked with a host of foundations including the Community Foundation and got a really great respect for its capabilities, its mission, its work, and its inclusiveness.” In addition to having a fund, the couple also recently committed to serve as FOREVER Funds Planning Committee co-chairs, helping reimagine the possibilities for donors to invest in the Foundation’s community-centered, community-voiced grantmaking.
Greater Memphis is characterized, Belinda said, by its “diversity and willingness to give.” The Andersons’ willingness to give has resulted in a philanthropic legacy that has improved amenities and quality of life for so many in the Mid-South. But, she remarked, “There’s so much more work to be done. As much as we do, there’s more to be done.”