How Second Harvest of Silicon Valley is using QCDs & legacy gifts to tackle hunger

November 18, 2021
min read
How Second Harvest of Silicon Valley is using QCDs & legacy gifts to tackle hunger

The Opportunity

Second Harvest has long had a strong community of loyal supporters, staff, volunteers, and donors dedicated to building a hunger-free community in Silicon Valley.

So when the Coronavirus pandemic hit and their costs doubled as they responded to unprecedented need, their community stepped up to help. A surge in donations helped the organization rapidly transform its operations and provide nutritious food to twice the number of people it did pre-pandemic.

This wave of generosity created new opportunities to tap into a rapidly growing donor base. Second Harvest used FreeWill to activate many of their older supporters in two ways.

One of the QCD donors increased his giving, and gave high praise to the tool and the copy FreeWill provided us to promote it. He said it was so clear, very easy to understand, and something donors like him really need to know about.

Cecilia Bynum
Planned Giving Officer

Real-Time Giving

Before their team partnered with FreeWill in late 2019, many of Second Harvest’s supporters expressed interested in giving from their IRAs — a gift called a Qualified Charitable Distribution — but simply didn’t know how or found the paperwork confusing.

So their team decided to use FreeWill to aid donors with making these gifts, knowing this would also help them grow their legacy prospect lists.

Tapping into a new crop of supporters who are now more aware than ever of the impact of Second Harvest’s mission, their team has built in consistent, ongoing outreach to their older donors. Many donors over 70 don’t realize that they could pay less in taxes and give more to charity by making a gift directly out of their IRA. Messaging about the benefits of QCDs is built into multiple marketing materials every month.

Plus, when potential donors call asking how to make a QCD, Second Harvest points them to their custom FreeWill site, where donors can find all the information and forms they need to give from their retirement accounts.

Through these efforts, the team has raised $167,000 in real-time QCD gifts, coming from more than 60 donors.

FreeWill’s tool really helped our donor relations hotline. It puts Second Harvest in a more professional light having this tool on our website.

Lynne Clarence
Individual Philanthropy Manager

Legacy Giving

By keeping QCDs top of mind for their donors, Second Harvest has also expanded their legacy prospect lists. They market legacy giving to their QCD donors, invite them to legacy society events, and include their FreeWill estate planning site as an option for creating a will and charitable bequest.

Their team has now seen FreeWill QCD donors become legacy donors — contributing to the more than $5 million the platform has helped them secure in legacy gift commitments.

Knowing how important it is to have a legal will in place, they’ve also used the will-making site as a way to give back to their staff, volunteers, and other supporters and thank them for their support.



in legacy commitments


raised from QCDs (IRA gifts)


Legacy & QCD donors


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