A Life of Generosity: Don Eskes’ Story
“When I became a Christian, I decided I didn’t want to be a spectator. I wanted to be in the game. At 78 years old, I don’t have the same energy and capacity I did 20 years ago, but I don’t think I will die sitting in a rocker somewhere.
I will keep going as long as God will let me.”
When Don Eskes moved to Fresno, California in 1965 to attend Fresno State University, his intention was to stay in the city for just a few years.
Little did he know that Fresno would be the place he would become a Christian, meet his wife, raise three children, enjoy his grandchildren, work as a successful business leader and owner, invest heavily in the nonprofit community, and help countless others do the same.
Business Owner to International Missionary
Don worked in the business world as a corporate Vice President and then the owner of his own company. During this time in the business world, Don’s daughter moved to Kenya, Africa. He and his wife visited their daughter in Kenya several times.
“I had been around the world and seen things that made me want to make a bigger contribution to society and my faith,” says Don.
So, in 2004, after 34 years in the business world, Don sold his company and went to Kenya again. During that trip he delivered wheelchairs to Rwanda and worked with a local microloan group supporting new businesses in the Congo.
In January, 2005 he went to Thailand to help refugees recover from the devastating tsunami that had taken place on December 26, 2004. In Thailand, Don felt God direct him to read Isaiah 58:10-11 in the Bible which says:
“and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in the sun-scotched land and will strengthen your frame, You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.’”
It was at that moment in Thailand that Don thought to himself, “Serving others… this is what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
Becoming the Fresno Mission’s CEO
Wherever he felt God leading him, Don would go. In 2010, as many of Don’s international projects were wrapping up, Don felt an undeniable pull to the Fresno Mission.
Don called the Fresno Mission’s CEO at the time and said, “I don’t know what this means exactly, but I’m going to go work for you! Don’t worry, I will not impact your budget.”
Don began serving as a volunteer at the Fresno Mission and was given a desk and business cards. Within a year, he was asked to come on staff. In 2016 he worked as the mission’s interim CEO when the need arose, serving for two years.
During 2019, Don also worked for the National Association of Rescue Missions visiting and supporting 50 different missions in the western United States.
In 2020, Don returned to the Fresno Mission as their Director of Strategic Initiatives to specifically focus on the development of the new City Center- a 9-acre campus that will include over 165,000 square feet of buildings dedicated to helping vulnerable people with a pathway out of crisis.
Developing a Passion for Legacy Giving
Through Don’s decades of experience working with nonprofits and donors in the Fresno community, he identified that not enough people think about something called Legacy Giving.
“Most ministries raise funds to fund their operations. There aren’t that many who spend time on legacy or estate giving. While I was at the Fresno Mission, I wrote a number of articles on legacy giving,” says Don. “I realized it can have a significant impact if someone includes legacy giving in their planning.”
Legacy Giving, sometimes known as Planned Giving, is a donation (of money, assets, property, or stocks) made by an individual to an organization or cause to be distributed during or after their death.
“Legacy Giving is a plan people have to fund ministries beyond their own life.
People think you have to have tens of millions of dollars or be the owner of Microsoft to leave a legacy. That’s not true.
“You don’t have to [have a lot of money or] leave it all to your kids or your family. If you have a passion for an organization in your life, [you can include them in your legacy, no matter the size of the gift],” says Don.
Serving with the Ten Talents Foundation
Don’s passion for educating individuals and ministries about Legacy Giving is one of the reasons he decided to serve on the Board of Directors of the Ten Talents Foundation.
In addition to spreading awareness about Legacy Giving, Don believes there is a lack of knowledge among nonprofits and generous individuals about different ways to give, including through crops and property.
“One of Ten Talents’ purposes is to help people create a legacy of giving and to educate people on how they can give to organizations creatively,” says Don. “Ten Talents is an organization focusing on this not for themselves, but to underwrite worthy nonprofits.”
Through Don’s 18 years working with ministries in Fresno and around the world, he has also seen the value in specifically supporting Christian organizations.
“There are no local Christian financial organizations [like Ten Talents]. Ten Talents is focused on Christian ministry.
I have seen that Christian ministries are the only ministries that can minister not just to people’s emotional and physical needs, but also their spiritual needs. They minister to the whole person.”
Don’s wisdom, life experiences, and passion for helping people and ministries give and accept gifts more strategically for Kingdom impact make him an invaluable part of the Ten Talents team.
What do you want your legacy to look like? You can make an impact and think about your Legacy Giving NOW. Ten Talents would love to help you consider how you can prayerfully and intentionally think about leaving a legacy for eternal impact. Click the button below to get in touch with Ten Talents today.
Final Words of Encouragement from Don
1. You don’t have to be a millionaire to leave a legacy. Think now about how you want your giving to outlive you.
2. You are no less valuable if you are giving to a ministry financially than if you’re out on the streets doing the work. We need Christians doing both!
3. Want to make a difference? Don’t look far. Start with those nearest to you.