Empowering dreams, building futures: Atlanta Habitat for Humanity's breakthrough in planned giving

February 27, 2024
min read
Empowering dreams, building futures: Atlanta Habitat for Humanity's breakthrough in planned giving

The Opportunity

Atlanta Habitat for Humanity is the largest affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International in Georgia and ranks as the 7th largest globally. Having impacted over 6,000 family members across more than 150 neighborhoods through its programs and initiatives, Atlanta Habitat is dedicated to fostering sustainable neighborhood revitalization through strategic partnerships and comprehensive residential counseling programs. Through these efforts, Atlanta Habitat is committed to enhancing capacity-building in key areas, with a focus on empowering individuals and transforming communities.

Before FreeWill, Atlanta Habitat would receive news of a few bequests made to their organization each year. Many of these bequest commitments lacked context or data, making it difficult to centralize their planned giving data and proactively steward these gifts.

Our achievement underscores the efficacy of our program, the unwavering commitment of our stakeholders, and the user-friendly yet robust platform provided by FreeWill.

Peggy Still Johnson
Atlanta Habitat Grants and Planned Giving Sr. Director

The Solution

At the close of 2022, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity joined forces with FreeWill to inaugurate their planned giving initiative. Setting a target of 40 bequests for the affiliate’s 40th anniversary in 2023, they far surpassed expectations by securing more than 80 legacy commitments, totaling more than $14 million to date.

When asked about what is contributing to Atlanta Habitat’s success, Grants and Planned Giving Sr. Director Peggy Still Johnson expressed that FreeWill makes planned giving a “plug and play” operation. Johnson says it is clear that “FreeWill has done the homework” to implement best practices for planned giving outreach and stewardship. Atlanta Habitat’s FreeWill partnership also inspired the Habitat affiliate to launch a formal Legacy Society to recognize donors who choose to make a legacy gift in their estate plans.

Johnson emphasized how FreeWill, the affiliate’s main planned giving collaborator, provides valuable gift data and insights through FreeWill’s Partner Portal to help illuminate what type of outreach is resonating well with supporters. Atlanta Habitat for Humanity works closely with a dedicated Partner Success Strategist to craft customized messaging that fits into the organization’s upcoming communications strategy. Beyond the regular scope of FreeWill’s campaign options, they’ve even implemented a customized June Homeownership campaign to reach current and new community stakeholders — including homeowners and volunteers — with FreeWill’s will-writing tool. 

With thoughtful strategy and FreeWill’s best practices, Atlanta Habitat has already helped more than 350 community members secure their futures with an estate plan, 100% cost-free to the users. This access to estate planning, among Atlanta Habitat’s numerous accomplishments across the community, amplifies the impact the affiliate can make across Atlanta.

Results from Planned Giving Suite Partnership

  • $14M+ in total legacy gift commitments from 83 legacy gifts
  • 67 primary bequest commitments


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It's not necessarily extra work, it’s just being smarter in the work we do. I think FreeWill has challenged us in that way. And our results since our FreeWill partnership have been tremendous. Having that relationship with your strategist to make sure you’re doing what’s best for your organization has paid off.

Don Cannada
Board Member
MPB Foundation

Not only are we booking bequests valued at over $1 million, we are getting full contact information for constituents that we only had email info for. The support offered by the FreeWill team from sales to implementation is top notch. This has been the best vendor experience I’ve had in my twenty plus year career.

Valerie Trego
Senior Development Officer,
Susquehanna Health Foundation

I think you're putting your finger on the pulse of what charitable organizations want and need to promote. I think it's very smart. It's exciting, and I'm excited to be in this space with you. You're creating a whole new class of philanthropists.

Brian Peterson
Director, Legacy and Gift Planning
Human Rights Watch

Having FreeWill is like having a part-time planned giving officer. Our FreeWill strategist is there anytime I have questions, ideas, or comments. I trust their expertise, and all the support they provide means I can spend time on other priorities.

Les Fout
Senior Stewardship Advisor
Knox Area Rescue Mission

FreeWill is the missing piece of this puzzle. It starts a conversation and creates this almost audible buzz around the topic. Larger donors hear the buzz and want to be a part of it so they step forward and that's already proving to be so valuable. The excitement is real in our office on a Director level.

Jeff McCormick
Director of Development and Planned Giving
Saint Ignatius High School