Givers

Jason Syversen: Engineered for giving

It’s a frigid Sunday morning as families file into Cafe 1269, a local homeless shelter in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire. Once every month, Jason and Bethanee Syversen and their six children come to serve up smiles, hugs, and a hot meal.

As Jason prepares to pass a plate, he locks eyes with a small boy across from him, and he thinks back to a time when he was the one on the other side of the table.

“I grew up pretty poor most of my life in rural Maine,” Jason says. “My dad was an engineer who worked in the paper mills. But when the mills started shutting down, he spent most of his life looking for work and was either unemployed or underemployed. So, I grew up on welfare with holes in my socks and one pair of shoes.”

Jason’s background of poverty motivated him to work hard in school. He received a full scholarship to the University of Maine where he earned his engineering degree and met his wife, Bethanee. Soon, Jason had a stable job as an engineer, which led to an even better government job where he became an expert in cybersecurity. Eventually, he started his own private cybersecurity firm and landed some very big contracts.

From the very start, Jason and Bethanee were committed to tithing and living a generous life … which included adoption. “Adoption is a big part of our journey,” says Bethanee. “And it was something that we had decided that we wanted to do when we first met each other, after we had biological children.” Little did she know she would go through 10 years of infertility, seven miscarriages, four live births, and three failed adoptions before she and Jason eventually adopted their twin sons.

While their family was growing, Jason’s business was growing, too. It became so lucrative that he was entertaining an opportunity to be acquired. Jason knew he wanted the sale of his business to pay off big for charity, but he was frustrated with the impending tax issues.

“I was looking for a solution to give shares of my company to charity without paying a higher tax rate than I would pay personally,” Jason says. “I talked to literally dozens of financial advisors, estate lawyers, planning people, and financial firms, but every single person told me that I couldn’t do anything about that.”

“As a hacker, I was really uncomfortable with that answer. I thought ‘there’s got to be a way to figure out how to do this.'” Then he met NCF.

NCF helped Jason to give away a portion of his business before the sale, which enabled him to avoid capital gains taxes and give millions more to charity. Jason was delighted. Now, he and Bethanee are using the money to make a big impact for their favorite causes, which all support vulnerable women and children: anti-human trafficking, foster care, adoption, orphanages, and crisis pregnancy centers.

They are also excited about starting their own charitable initiatives. Bethanee recently founded an organization which fights pornography by equipping, educating, and training parents and kids with an online curriculum she’s written (exposeonline.org). “It’s a health crisis in this world, and I’m tackling it, along with some other really excellent leaders across the globe.”

Jason and Bethanee look forward to the day when they will see how their giving has paid off. “Twenty years from now, we hope to see the fruit of the charitable investments that we have made financially and with our time,” says Bethanee. “We also hope that we’ve established a legacy of giving with our kids and that they have embraced the concept of living generously. And of course, we hope they have families of their own and that they’re passing on biblical principles and a passion for loving God and loving others to their own kids.”

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