We had the good fortune of connecting with Titus Benton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Titus, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Most people don’t change until they have to. Something moves us so deeply that we know the status quo won’t cut it any more. The 25 Group was born out of this kind of frustration — tension around poverty, need and vulnerability existing in the same spaces as wealth, prosperity, and over-indulgence. In 2013 I had lived in Texas for two years and been around a lot of wealth for the first time in my life. That same year, I took a trip to India and was stirred by the lack of clean drinking water, nutrition, and healthcare. My wife and I re-imagined what our financial impact could be, and also considered how other people might like to participate. So by January 2014 we’d sold our house, started a nonprofit, and invited people to give small monthly gifts so we could turn those into large capital grants for organizations serving those at risk all over the world. Since then, we’ve raised and given away over a half-million dollars to over 25 organizations in a couple dozen countries.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have always done a lot of different things. I’m insatiably curious, and never been content with the normal 9-5 gig. My pastoral career served to feed this need for starting new things and doing meaningful work and it lasted nearly two decades. Overlapping that work was my nonprofit career, another example of how I love to take on new challenges. I love starting things, I love doing things that people think can’t be done, and I love bringing people together to accomplish things that matter. Most people see me as an affable, agreeable, friendly guy. While that’s true, I am also deeply ambitious and incredibly stubborn. I hate to lose. The nonprofit sector (be in the church or charitable orgs) is not easy. Fundraising is hard. Getting people to care is hard. Leading teams is hard. I’ve never done anything the easy way. What I’ve learned is you have to be ready to pivot quickly, you have to be a good listener, and you have to be willing to be vulnerable. People sniff out fakers with ease — but they will follow the real deal to do incredibly difficult things if given the chance. I don’t know if there is anything people need to know about my story. I’m not that big of a deal. However, what I hope my journey inspires (in particular my work with The 25 Group) is that when we see problems we can engage to fix them. We really do have it in our collective power to change the world.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Houston is the perfect city for this question! There is so much to do. I live in Katy, and there are some tremendous places to eat — That’s My Dog on Morton Road, Pappa Gyros on Kingsland, and Joy Love Burger on Mason along with Red River BBQ on South Mason are some of my favorites. We also have Katy Asian Town, with a lot of the same places as Chinatown on Bellaire — some of the best Korean Fried Chicken, Ramen, and sushi in the city. There are a thousand other places I could eat — Hubcap Grill is a great burger, along with Lankford Grocery. A great day trip is to Galveston Island State Park. It’s quieter than along the sea wall and our favorite spot. We always hit Shrimp n’ Stuff on Avenue O afterwards. You’re obviously going to take an out-of-towner to Buc-ee’s — I’d go in the morning and get a couple brisket tacos and some coffee. And while there are a ton of great spots in town to visit (The Aquarium, Kemah, NASA, and museums galore), I prefer to get outside. George Bush Park is a great place to hike and Hermann and Memorial Parks are treasures. Brazos Bend State Park is terrific to see some alligators up close, too. You can get a great Old Fashioned at The General Public in City Center. For coffee I love Summer Moon in Katy, Blockhouse in Richmond, and am biased toward Paper Co. in Ecclesia Houston on Elder downtown. Lastly, games at Toyota Center are electric and Minute Maid is a great venue for baseball. I’d hit those, too. I’ve left out a thousand awesome things, but that’s a start. You can literally take a trip around the world in Houston — it’s my favorite thing about the city.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
No one has shaped me like my parents. Jim and Cathy Benton were relentless in their work-ethic, values, and determination to give me what I needed to flourish. Sometimes we lived life behind the eight ball, but I didn’t give up. This shoutout and every accomplishment is dedicated to them and their tireless resolve.
Website: www.titusfortexas.com, www.the25group.org, www.tituslive.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Titus.benton, www.facebook.com/TitusForTexas, www.facebook.com/The25Group