A decades-long tradition of giving


Two older people, a man and woman, smiling in the sun at the camera

When Darlene and Mark Johnson began their lives together as a young couple, one of their first acts was to reflect on the values they held in common, and to take purposeful steps to put their values in action. This included beginning a tradition of giving. More than 46 years later, Mark and Darlene continue to support Cuso International through their charitable donations.

“We had student debt and all the other financial pressures that a young couple faces,” says Mark of their early years together. “We didn’t come from wealth, but we decided right away that everything we made wasn’t going to be just for us. A portion of our income would be for charities.”

Darlene and Mark were drawn to Cuso International partly because Darlene had worked as a Cuso International volunteer teacher in Zambia from 1973 to 1975. She knew full well the type of organization she was supporting, and she loved its philosophy. The couple began by donating annually as part of their charitable giving and eventually became monthly donors. As Darlene puts it, “Monthly giving works better for us because it fits the principle that we’re always giving a proportion of our income.” Darlene and Mark even included Cuso International as a beneficiary in their Will the day they drew it up with their lawyer in the early 1980s. “Your Will is the last place to really say that someone or some organization is meaningful to you,” says Mark.

The couple are particularly drawn to Cuso International’s model of sending volunteers abroad and to Canada’s North to support vital, life-giving projects. They say they always read the reports Cuso International sends them, and that they inspire confidence in the work of the organization. Darlene adds that, as a volunteer, she was impressed with Cuso International’s follow-up and openness to feedback. “It’s an organization that’s always seeking to better itself,” she says. “That’s another one of the reasons why we’ve felt good about giving to Cuso and continued to do so for all these years.”

Marks adds that many of their friends have been Cuso International volunteers. “They’re invariably great human beings,” he says. “Why wouldn’t we support people whose philosophy corresponds with our own and with what we believe in?

Darlene and Mark say that Cuso International’s track record and trustworthiness give them the assurance they need that their donations will be used in the best possible ways to enrich the lives of people around the world.

“That’s why we’ve given throughout our life,” they say. “We don’t look for recognition or a program to be named after us. We just want our funds to be used in the ways that Cuso Internationalthinks would be best.”

To learn more about how you too can continue to play an integral role in Cuso International’s mission by leaving a gift in your Will, please contact Nicole Burgess, Associate Director, Philanthropy & Engagement.

Phone (toll free): +1.888.434.2876 x 205 Email: nicole.burgess@cusointernational.org