Teaming up
for greater giving


Clyde Lear is a team player. In fact, he built a company based on teamwork that represents 120 top collegiate franchises across the country. As Clyde strides down the halls of the business, past rows of gleaming college football helmets perched atop sophisticated broadcasting bays, he proudly points to a sign that expresses the mission of Learfield: “Build the Team, Grow the Company, and Have Fun!”

But the business wasn’t always this large, or this glamorous. Clyde reflects, “It was a small company back in 1972 when we had our first broadcast. We started out as an agricultural news service with farm programs to radio stations all over central Missouri. Then we added news networks and satellite technology. Eventually, we worked out a deal to broadcast the University of Missouri’s Tiger football games. And that’s how we backed into the sports business.” 

COVENANT LEADERSHIP

As the sports division took off, Learfield continued to expand over the next few decades. But Clyde discovered that business success was not enough. “Looking back, I know that I had faith and I went to church. But it wasn’t until I was in my early 40s that I began to have a richer understanding of the role that Jesus played in my life when He died on the cross.” Along with a deeper commitment to faith, Clyde made a covenant with his leadership team that changed the course of his life. “It was 1994 and I was a new believer,” says Clyde. “I thought it was important for me to step out and take a new challenge. So I went on a men’s retreat with our leadership team. The facilitators there challenged us to start an accountability group. We did, and we have met every month since 1996. We invest in each other. And we have been able to use our company for the Lord. Overall, I would say the most important thing for me, besides marrying my wife and meeting Jesus, has been accountability with these four other men from Learfield.”

A TAX-SMART TEAM

Eventually, it was these four close friends that presented Clyde with the opportunity for a buy-out. “In 2006, I had the opportunity to sell 40 percent of the business,” says Clyde. “And one of my buddies said to me, ‘Clyde, if you’re selling the company, you really ought to talk to NCF, because they have a whole bevy of lawyers, and they are smarter than any group we know of in America today on how to get the best bang for the buck, especially tax-wise, from your sale.’”

So Clyde teamed up with NCF to give part of his business. Clyde explains, “I gave them a lot of stock in Learfield. Then when we had the sale happen, they were the recipient of all that cash, and that went in our Giving Fund so we could give that money away later.” Sue adds, “I think the Giving Fund is wonderful because it gives us an opportunity to have that money available when something comes up. We don’t feel like we’re pulling it out of the checkbook. It’s a good vehicle to be able to give to causes or whatever you feel the need to give to, and know that money is available.”

GIVING ON PRINCIPLE

With additional money set aside, Clyde and Sue decided to establish some specific parameters for giving. Clyde says, “We said first of all, whatever we give to is going to serve the purposes of Jesus. And the second thing is we are only going to give to needs that would go unmet if we didn’t step up to the plate.”

One project that fit squarely into their guidelines was something they had dreamed about for many years – building a Young Life Camp in Missouri. Clyde and Sue knew the need for a camp in the Midwest firsthand because they had driven kids to camp as far away as Denver and Texas for years. Clyde says, “We had already sold the business and we had the cash. So we went ahead and made the lead gift that allowed the national board of Young Life to move forward.”

GOING ALL OUT FOR GIVING

In the summer of 2016, the Young Life camp at Clearwater Cove near Branson, Missouri, opened for its first group of teen campers. Clyde and Sue were there for the big event. Sue says, “We were standing there and the buses were coming up the hill and I was cheering. We watched the first kid get off the bus and our regional Young Life director came over and started hugging me. And I just lost it. It was such an emotional thing because we had worked so hard to see this moment come to pass.” Clyde describes the experience this way: “As an entrepreneur, having a great sale or doing a great deal brought wonderful satisfaction. There is a high about it that you just absolutely love. And when we got to see that first bus pulling into the Young Life camp, it was that same high. Is there such thing as a giving high? I think maybe we’ve found it!”


Clyde's advice to business owners

“I would recommend NCF to someone who is selling their company or making a transaction ... you ought to be thinking about it. No matter how big or small the transaction, even small real estate transactions, you can save capital gains taxes if you contact NCF before you do anything. That’s the critical thing. You ought to be setting up a relationship with NCF so that as you walk through life on these financial issues, they can give you recommendations for the best way to maximize your giving.” 


I would say the most important thing for me, besides marrying my wife and meeting Jesus, has been accountability with these four other men from Learfield.
— Clyde
Is there such thing as a giving high? I think maybe we’ve found it!
— Clyde