Donor Profile: Jack Clayton

What are you passionate about? What issue(s) speak to you?

There’s more than one, but right off the bat, I would say youth leadership. I’ve been involved with Boy Scouts for a long time – in Durham where I became an Eagle Scout and in Raleigh where I was an Assistant Scout Master and President of the Occoneechee Council and later on with all three of my sons who became Eagle Scouts. The organization does a great job developing leadership skills and confidence in young boys – teaching them how to survive in the woods, and in today’s world.

I’m also really passionate about land conservation. I’m on the Triangle Land Conservancy board, and I really enjoy that. A few years ago, with a partner, my family purchased a 260-acre farm on the Cape Fear River, across from Raven Rock State Park. We are working actively on developing the land and planting long leaf pine trees on the property. We’ve just built a pavilion there and it is our hope that community groups can use it for a getaway place. We are also looking at conservation easements on it, developing it into a working tree farm, and using it as a place where our families can also enjoy the outdoors.

Tell us more about WHY you give back?

Well, part of it is a tithe – we have been given many things, and so we in turn give to help others. Whether it’s through environmental nonprofits or scholarships, it is our responsibility to help others. We recently established a scholarship at Wake Forest in honor of my Dad. At 92 years old, what more could he need or want? Now in his honor we are helping others attend Wake Forest, and isn’t that great?

Our kids are also giving back. Our son Will founded and directs the Broughton Travel Fellowship to send our brightest, financially in-need students from around the country on summer adventures around the world. These are students who would never dream of something like this. The goal is to create a space to dream and instill a notion of global citizenship, all while providing a compelling story college admissions. For us, it’s all about helping others achieve their goals.

What excites you about the future of the Triangle? What worries you?

What excites me is all the incredible things going on that makes this a wonderful place to live. . I’m really energized about the future potential of Dix Park and the greenway system. Dix Park will be our Central Park! We love to walk, run and bike, and since we are close to the greenway we are able to access it easily. It’s such a wonderful addition to Raleigh. There are so many things to do in the Triangle that make it a really attractive place to live.

What worries me is that with all this growth, I wonder if we can continue to keep the quality of life at the level we all want it to be.We are starting to be bogged down with infrastructure issues and traffic. Can we build the infrastructure at a pace to keep up with the growth? I worry about that. We are working on it, but need to continue to invest in the area – we need to stay ahead of it.

Do you have any words of advice for someone starting out in their career to plug into philanthropy?

Figure out what your one or two passions are, and then get involved in that. Whether it’s tutoring kids, or conservation, or the arts, figure out what those passions are and let your dollars follow your passion. Don’t try to do 10 things, try to do two or three really well, and match that on the contribution side, when you give money to an organization, that way it makes a greater impact.

Once you have your passion down, I encourage you to then think about where the greatest need is and try to impact area that along with where your passion is.  For example, if you are passionate about conservation, then give there, but also recognize that child hunger in our region is a great need and get involved in making an impact there as well.

It is important to get your whole family involved early in making contributions. Each of our 3 sons have an equal share of our fund to contribute. We all talk about what is most impactful and many times we end up supporting each other’s cause.

Jack Clayton recently retired as Regional President of Wells Fargo, after 40 years with the bank. Wells Fargo has been a sponsor of the Foundation’s What Matters Community Luncheon since 2010. An active fundholder, in September 2017, he was presented with the AE Finley Distinguished Service Award by the Raleigh Chamber at their Annual Meeting. He has also been recognized by the NC Land Trusts as Corporate Conservation Partner of the Year and by the TBJ as CEO of the Year. Jack has worn many hats for the Foundation, including board member and community volunteer, and he has served in the same capacity for many other Triangle nonprofits. He grew up in Durham, and currently lives in Raleigh with his wife, Mary.