“The word that comes to mind when I think about ECHO is sustainability,” said Orlando Logelin of St. Paul, Minnesota. “I like that ECHO’s work with the hungry around the world is not short-term, but teaches people how to grow food, which in turn improves their lifestyle and culture. I also like that they use simple, sustainable techniques.”
Orlando has been a friend of ECHO since 1992 when a friend invited him to visit their headquarters in North Fort Myers. He liked what he saw and went on to serve on their Board for two, six-year terms. “I’ve always enjoyed the fellowship of ECHO and the meaningful friendships I developed with people around the U.S. who support ECHO, especially on its board,” he said.
Since Orlando is an estate planner by profession, he knows how important the reputation and credibility of an organization is to donors. “ECHO has become very well known in the charity industry in Southwest Florida. It has a very positive influence and is a great contributor to its own community,” he continued. Indeed ECHO is rated the #1 international charity in Florida by Charity Navigator.
In the same way that he appreciates the sustainability of ECHO’s programs and practices, he values the sustainability of a legacy gift. “My gift gives now, but it will continue to give,” he noted. “My estate keeps giving and thus keeps improving lives.”
Dwight and Dawn Youngkin
Perhaps it began with the pumpkin seeds. Dwight and Dawn Youngkin first heard of ECHO in 1988 from missionaries who had just returned from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) and were speaking in their church. The organization piqued their interest, causing Dwight to stop at its receiving a package of pumpkin seeds in return. The couple planted the pumpkin seeds, which not only thrived, but caused the Youngkin’s neighbors to declare the plants the most “aggressive” they had ever seen.
Not only did the pumpkins thrive, but so did the long-term relationship between Dwight and Dawn and ECHO. When Dwight retired in 1993 from his career in animal health, the two wintered in Florida and they volunteered as tour guides on the farm. Later they served as docents full-time during the several years they lived in the area full-time, returning again to part-time volunteers upon their return to snowbird status in 2005. They appreciate the quality and positive attitude of ECHO’s staff, as well as the many volunteers they have worked with through the years.
“What impresses me most about ECHO, though, is how well they manage the money they take in. Gifts are not frittered away, they don’t spend a lot to raise funds, and you can know that money is being used well.” Like those pumpkin seeds, the Youngkins know that their gifts will go a long way and result in a bountiful harvest.
Gary Cooper’s thriving business kept him very busy by day, but in the wee hours of the night the thought of doing something about world hunger gnawed away at him. He wrote to missionaries and went on a short-term mission trip to Haiti. One evening in Haiti a package of seeds fell out of a roommate’s luggage, and Gary learned about ECHO’s practice of providing seeds for missionaries. He helped plant those seeds and thus began his practice of supporting the work of others in the field through ECHO’s connections.
“One year I took 100 strawberry plants to a missionary in Belize. I learned how hard development work is the day after we planted them, when we discovered that leaf eater ants had eaten every one of the plants.” Gary’s experience in his agriculture business, however, had given him insight into the “constant problems of farmers” and so he had a keen appreciation for the long-term work and learning that marks the ECHO community.
“I’ve always been interested in helping people by working with those who are already working in mission,” said Gary. He coordinated the first ECHO agricultural conference in Haiti (an annual conference that has continued growing since its inception in 1996) and Farm Day (an annual event now called the Farm and Food Festival at the Global Farm in Fort Myers).
“If you want to leave a legacy, receive income from doing so, and still know where you’re giving, a planned gift is the way to go,” he concluded. Gary likes knowing that his gift is a continuous, living thing—like the seeds that fell out of his friend’s luggage, like the continuing work of missionaries and development workers around the world, and like ECHO, whose mission of educating and equipping others multiplies the gift many times.
Through Planned Giving, almost everyone can give a gift to their favorite charity. Even if you initially think that you cannot afford to make such a gift, many of these gifts may be made today or in the future while still preserving your financial security.