Boosting planned giving efforts and strengthening community: How the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington found a partner in planned giving

May 6, 2024
min read
Boosting planned giving efforts and strengthening community: How the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington found a partner in planned giving

The Opportunity

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington (BGC Bloomington) has been serving its community since 1956. Providing up to 650 children with after-school programming, BGC Bloomington creates a safe space for kids from a variety of backgrounds. However, the operational costs for these invaluable services far exceeded their nominal annual fee of $20 per child. Because of their heavily donation-based funding structure, along with local grant funding, diversifying their fundraising revenue became crucial.

Leslie Abshier, Resource Development Director, recognized the need to strengthen BGC Bloomington's planned giving program if it was to continue facilitating its much-needed programs and consider expanding.

BGC Bloomington had been struggling with its planned giving strategy, particularly as they sought to reinvigorate their giving society, the Heritage Club. With much of the organization’s income coming from grants and local donations, the board was initially skeptical that planned giving would be well-received by their community but the team framed it as an investment in the organization’s future.


The Solution

As a pillar in the community they serve, BGC Bloomington was also looking for ways to expand their potential impact, and recognized FreeWill as a solution to help them serve their community and further their fundraising efforts.

FreeWill’s Planned Giving Suite helped BGC Bloomington streamline the planned giving process, alleviating the administrative burden that can come with initially setting up a planned giving program. The FreeWill strategy team and training resources helped to guide them from the concept stage to implementation. The staff gained valuable education about estate planning and planned giving, which they could then share with their donors.

The tool was introduced as a free resource for families without an estate plan. The BGC Bloomington team framed FreeWill as “a gift to our families, an investment in their future, and a way to care for our families and provide for them.” Within a surprisingly short period of time, BGC Bloomington has already received numerous estate plans created by people they would not have expected, particularly the parents of Club members.

The partnership with FreeWill has helped the BGC team consistently launch planned giving-focused campaigns, along with regular engagement with donors, aided by regular meetings with their FreeWill contact.

Within their first year of launching the Planned Giving Suite, BGC Bloomington saw a 5 times return on their investment, far exceeding their expectations. They helped 93 people secure their family’s legacy through an estate plan, with more than 30% of plans including a gift to the Boys and Girls Club.

By offering FreeWill, BGC Bloomington was able to contribute to the financial health of their community, while also achieving their fundraising goals.



  • $155K in legacy gift commitments
  • 93 completed estate plans


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FreeWill is a great way to provide another resource back to the people who support us by sending their kids to us and recognizing that we are a voice in the community.

Ashley Wesley
Ashley Wesley
Donor Relations Director

I knew we had to do something to get our planned giving off the ground, and what we were doing wasn't working.

Leslie Abshier
Leslie Abshier
VP of Resource Development

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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
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Valerie Trego
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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
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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
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