Radical Generosity

Jeff Foxworthy with Phil & Sharon Drake

Bankruptcy was to Phil and Sharon Drake, the greatest of spiritual gifts. Now, their generosity is far-reaching.

Radical Generosity

By: Martha Anne Tudor

Radical Generosity

The way Phil Drake sees it, bankruptcy was the best spiritual thing that ever happened to him.

“God got my attention.”

His composure melts as he describes the time nearly 30 years ago when his software business bottomed and he was forced into bankruptcy. He and his wife, Sharon, and their three young children received food through a federal program for the poor.  But the most humbling moment came when a friend offered him $500.

“Accepting it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “It was a life-changing event.  It changed my attitude about giving.”

It was 2 a.m. on a day soon after, on his way home from work, that Phil reached the point of total surrender. “I told God, ‘I have messed this up. If You take care of my business, I’ll take care of Yours.’”

Phil and Sharon rebuilt the company and repaid every cent from their bankruptcy. He says, “We might not have had a legal responsibility to do so, but we had a moral and ethical one.”

Phil now sits comfortably at the helm of an 18-company enterprise, the flagship of which is multimillion-dollar Drake Software, which produces a product used by 37,000 tax professionals every year.

Headquarters are in his hometown of Franklin, N.C., where the 60-year-old is known as a powerful mover and shaker, devoted family man and faithful Christian. Town folks say he is quick to help those in need, with a nonjudgmental kindness they long remember.

Phil and Sharon’s radical generosity reaches far outside their town, however — even to the other side of the world.

They became involved with Compassion when daughter Sarah, now 30, was in middle school and asked to sponsor a child. When Phil researched Compassion’s reputation for financial accountability, he and Sharon decided to give more.

The Drake family has since sponsored many children through the Child Sponsorship and Leadership Development programs, and provided substantial support for the Child Survival Program and other Compassion initiatives.

Six years ago they helped fund the building of the Najile Girls School in Kenya, offering young girls in the Ewuaso Kedong community a choice they’d never had before — secondary school over immediate marriage.  Back home last April, the Drakes donated use of their 1,500-seat Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts for a Compassion benefit with comedian Jeff Foxworthy, and also matched ticket sales.

“I don’t believe it’s my money,” Phil says. “God’s simply made me the steward of it. And I intend to give it all away.”