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Mark Orgel '83 believes in leading by example. As a former member of the Bethel Foundation's Board of Governors, Orgel has had many opportunities to lead others. He served on the board for 20 years and was chair of the board's investment committee for many of those years.
As a leader and in answer to God's call, Mark and Tammy Orgel regularly give to Bethel's annual fund. They also, along with another board member, made a significant gift to help launch Bethel's physician assistant master's program, which started in 2013.
Those are just a few of the many ways the Orgels have financially prioritized Bethel. But they don't plan to stop there. "Bethel is named in our estate plan," Orgel says.
Rather than give to a specific program or programs, the Orgels will let Bethel Foundation decide how best to earmark the funds. "We believe the needs of Bethel will change over time," says Orgel.
He attributes much of his success to his Bethel education. "Bethel's business program was instrumental in shaping my career and my Christian faith," he says.
Today, Orgel is the owner of a successful investment firm, Orgel Wealth Management.
Training for life and career
Orgel always knew he wanted a career in business. He comes from a family of entrepreneurs and set his sights on attending a Christian, liberal arts college. He attended another Christian college his first year, but soon found himself at Bethel, where he was impressed by the respected business leaders who taught in the department.
Applying his entrepreneurial spirit to academics, Orgel worked with Bethel staff to create his own communications and management major, which combined computer science, statistics, finance, and accounting, in addition to other communication and business classes.
"I believe passionately that success is problem-solving skills and communication skills. If people have that, I can teach them anything," Orgel says.
He credits his Bethel education with teaching him how to live out his faith in his everyday life and in the business world.
"I had a great experience learning what it means to live a Christian life inside of a specific profession," Orgel says. "It shaped my core beliefs that help shape my life today."
When Orgel graduated from Bethel he was prepared to jump into his career, and by age 24 he had opened his own investment advisory firm in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He continued to succeed in his career, and one day, Orgel's mentor of several years, who is also a Bethel graduate, said, "It's time for you to serve in another capacity."
Serving the Bethel Foundation
Orgel's mentor suggested he join the Board of Governors for the Bethel Foundation. After candidly speaking with former Bethel University President George Brushaber and former Bethel Foundation President David Lissner, Orgel became a member of the board in the mid-1990s. He was involved in the investment committee almost right from the start.
"That is what God has wired me to do, and I'm passionate about it," Orgel says. "I was very blessed, particularly as we got bigger, to serve with some incredibly talented people who had a heart for Bethel.
Often donors want to know how their money will be spent and if it will be spend prudently. Board members are up to the task, Orgel explains. They have accounting degrees, CFAs, and deep finance skills and experience. They know state and federal laws regarding investments, and they are committed to managing charitable gifts wisely. For them, it's about being great stewards of Christ's assets. Orgel also praises the Bethel Foundation staff, who are often the face of planned giving efforts.
"We have an incredible internal team and extraordinary outside consultants, and the board holds them accountable," Orgel says. "It starts with a love for the mission of Bethel."
Making a Difference
The mission is what sets apart a gift to Bethel, says Orgel. "A charitable gift to Bethel is different in terms of its impact on people. ?Bethel educates people to be ambassadors for Christ and to be successful in their careers. There are very few places that can impact that many people for the kingdom."
Planned gifts are one example of a charitable gift. When donors pledge a planned gift, which is a deferred gift such as through property, stocks, bonds, or will, the Bethel Foundation staff seek to understand the giver's needs and objectives. For example, if a giver has a passion for a particular academic department, staff will listen to and work with that person to direct their resources to that area.
Says Orgel, "We listen and try to design a program that honors the specific requests and needs of those who are being generous in giving their resources to Bethel."
When the Orgels gave to Bethel's physician assistant program, they saw an opportunity to use Bethel's talented staff in the hard sciences to meet a need - to create a program that taught students to care for a person holistically, not just medically.
Donors can give in a number of ways. "We see people give to programs and departments, endow a chair, and [give] to scholarships," Orgel says. "There are ways to partner with people through any stage in life." Ultimately, he explains. "We just want to make sure we are good partners for people who have a heart for Bethel."Learn more about Charitable Gift Annuities and how you can advance Bethel's mission .