When Mark Klopp is faced with major life decisions, he literally pounds the pavement.
This avid runner uses the miles he logs on foot as focused time for prayer, contemplation, and meditation. When he’s not running, he does research to make sure he has all the necessary information to make big decisions. He is nothing if not thorough. And changing his lifelong approach to philanthropy was no different.
A former corporate executive now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mark began his giving journey like many people do—by tithing. For years, this weekly donation formed the cornerstone of his giving. As he grew his career in the chemical industry, he and his wife’s focus was on making sure their son David, age 20, would be provided for in the future. But building his legacy gave way to a host of questions: When would they have saved enough? Was there a way for the fruits of their labor to serve God’s kingdom, as well as their family? How could they impact the ministry today, the family tomorrow, and leave a legacy of Kingdom impact as well? Mark spent many of his daily runs struggling with these questions and concerns around financial security.
His main recurring thought coming from God’s prompting was, “I could work for a bigger purpose if I built a bigger estate that I committed to giving away.”
But deciding how exactly to change his charitable giving wasn’t something that happened overnight. In fact, Mark and his wife Megan did years of research and personal exploration in order to realign their family goals and spiritual goals. They participated as a couple in a Journey of Generosity and joined the local Barnabas Group. Mark also graduated from The Master’s Program, a three-year program that assists in finding your Kingdom calling. They reevaluated how much they believed was necessary to set aside for their family, while experimenting with different giving methods, like a Donor Advised Fund (DAF), which allowed them to use their appreciated assets in a tax-efficient way.
“As soon as we started letting go, more blessings and positive financial events happened,” Mark says.
On a parallel path, Mark and Megan’s relationship with Opportunity International was picking up speed. For eight years, they had enjoyed their Governors community and felt drawn to the transformational aspect of the work, or as he says, looking at the combination of “mind, body, spirit and economics. You’re helping to build entrepreneurs, recycling dollars, and giving them pride in paying it back while they create jobs and lift their communities. It’s a sustainable model—the money that you give never really goes away and keeps working to transform lives.”
Through the DAF, they were able to take money that would have gone toward capital gains taxes and direct it to Opportunity instead, where they could see its immediate impact on other people. But the Klopps were also drawn to the long-term charitable benefits that could be gained from compounding interest and building wealth over time. He wondered how they could use planned giving to “build treasures in Heaven rather than on Earth.”
Their answer came in the form of making a bequest to Opportunity. For Mark and Megan, the decision to include the organization in their will was a matter of trusting in God. “The only way we were able to make this leap was to surrender; be willing to give up some of our estate, and trust that God will provide while we’re here and for our family when we are gone,” Mark says. “And I can say that He’s done that.”
As their generosity journey continues, Mark and Megan will keep exploring and encouraging others to do the same. In fact, they are planning to have their son manage his own DAF as a way to begin to develop his own philanthropic path. “Get yourself educated on stewardship, generosity, philanthropy and the tools available to you,” Mark says. And above all else, know that being charitable “is not a zero-sum game,” he says. “You don’t have to necessarily take from your family to give to a ministry; if you plan wisely, understand the tax system and get good counsel, you can win at both.”