How the YMCA of Greater Richmond raised $1.2M in legacy commitments

November 13, 2023
min read
How the YMCA of Greater Richmond raised $1.2M in legacy commitments

The Opportunity

The YMCA of Greater Richmond is committed to making their community a better place to live by serving children and families through each of their 17 branches. Their 1854 legacy society had experienced some growth in recent years due to a renewed focus on planned giving, but the program had started to stall. They had their marketing covered but were in need of additional support, and a way to prompt action from supporters in order to have a more robust program.


The Solution

In January 2020, the YMCA of Greater Richmond launched the Planned Giving Suite through their partnership with FreeWill, allowing them to grow their planned giving strategy beyond mere solicitation and offer a true value-add for members.

Through the Planned Giving Suite, the Y is able to provide its supporters with a link to a co-branded landing page where they can create their wills for free and select the YMCA of Greater Richmond as a beneficiary. With the support and expertise provided by their Partner Success Strategist, the Y has received 134 primary bequest commitments estimated at over $1.2 million throughout the duration of their partnership.

The partnership has facilitated the YMCA of Greater Richmond in strengthening bonds with existing major donors and nurturing relationships with new legacy donors. It’s also inspired non-donors to consider legacy giving for the first time. One volunteer learned of the opportunity by helping the team with their acknowledgement process, and was inspired to leave a legacy gift to the Y when learning of the opportunity.

As Director of Philanthropy Operations Elaina Brannan describes it: “Even though that gift didn’t come through FreeWill, I attribute it to the FreeWill relationship. It keeps the conversation at the forefront and invites others to think about their own planned gifts.”

In everything they do, the Y aims to create accessibility for all individuals in their community. Brannan sees FreeWill as proof of that: “It aligns with our mission and values. Having something like FreeWill allows us to talk about our commitment to equity, and it’s one other way that we’re providing an equitable benefit to our members.”

In their first 3 years of partnership, the YMCA of Greater Richmond has helped over 840  individuals complete their estate plans, providing a vital resource to their community, and completely revived their planned giving program in the process.



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This relationship is essentially turnkey. These are gifts that have come with little to no effort, and if we put the effort into stewardship, the more it will return. The ROI has been exceptionally valuable and that’s easily proven.

Elaina Brennan
Elaina Brennan
Director of Philanthropy Operations

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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