Pledging to give away millions of dollars is easier said than done.

John P. Morgridge made his fortune, estimated at $1 billion by Forbes, as chief executive of Cisco Systems Inc. The 83-year-old and his wife Tashia signed the Giving Pledge in 2010 to donate at least half of it. The task of dispersing the funds has become a full-time job for the next generation.

Morgridge's son John D., 53, and his wife Carrie, 49, head the Morgridge Family Foundation, a Denver-based philanthropy that supports causes like the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Mile High United Way.

Carrie Morgridge did not grow up in a wealthy family, and the Morgridges were not yet billionaires when she and her husband married in 1991, so managing the resources of a charitable institution has been an education for her. She wrote about her experiences in the 2015 book "Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World."

Reuters spoke with Carrie Morgridge about the life lessons she has learned trying to make the most of the donations her family is able to give.

Q: What money lessons did you learn from your own parents?

A: When I grew up, we were paycheck-to-paycheck. If one thing would have happened, we'd have been out on the streets. That gives me empathy. Right now, we're working on work force development and second-generation poverty elimination. I understand. I get it. Sometimes $50 or $100 can improve a person's life.

My parents taught me if I worked hard I could be anything I wanted to be. I have a really strong work ethic, I think it comes out in philanthropy. I work about 80 hours a week.

Q: What did John's parents pass along to him?

A: John had a paper route, then he worked at McDonald's. He always had a job from a young age, all the way through. It's so important because that gives ourselves value. If everything is given, you have less value for yourself.