RESOURCES  |  March 10, 2021

Top 20: The nonprofits getting the most planned gifts from online will-makers

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Since FreeWill launched three years ago, more than 200,000 people have used our free online will-making tool to plan their estates. In the process, they’ve given $2.2 billion in new bequest commitments to thousands of nonprofit organizations. 


How does this work? It’s simple. When a person makes a will on our site, we ask them what they care about, and then we give them the option to leave a gift in their will to specific causes, such as cancer research, human rights, environmental conservation, and education. If they want to give, they can choose a suggested organization, or enter the name of a charity they like. When not prompted, fewer than 6% of Americans choose to leave a gift when making their will. On FreeWill, however, that number is more than double the national average — at 13% — and 67% of those donors opt in to share their contact information with their nonprofit beneficiaries. 


Download 2022 Planned Giving Report


The top 20 organizations that legacy donors love

We looked at the data from our public will-making site ( to see which organizations are receiving the highest number of bequests.


Here are our a couple of our top partners, suggested to will-makers on our site, receiving the most bequests:

  • World Wildlife Fund
    Looking at this list, it’s clear that many legacy donors are passionate about preserving the earth for the next generations, and long after they’re gone. Like many of the environmental organizations below, World Wildlife Fund is wildly popular among legacy donors, who want to help them conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.

  • Disabled American Veterans
    Founded in 1920, DAV has provided life-changing support for veterans and their families for over a hundred years. Each year, they help more than one million veterans connect with the healthcare, disability, employment, education, and financial benefits they’ve earned so they can live their lives with respect and dignity.


And check out the top twenty organizations not yet suggested to will-makers on the FreeWill site that get the most love from legacy donors:


1. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

This famous children’s hospital has received almost double the number of legacy gifts as any other non-partner organization on FreeWill. Their mission is to advance cures and the means of prevention for pediatric diseases through research and treatment.


2. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Founded in 1866, ASPCA was the first humane society established in North America and is one of the largest in the world. In 2019, they rescued, relocated, and protected more than 400,000 animals.


3. American Civil Liberties Union

The ACLU has been at the forefront of history-making court cases for more than a hundred years, so it’s not surprising that they’re near the top of the list for organizations that donors care about.


4. The Nature Conservancy

With over one million members, the Nature Conservancy is crushing legacy giving, and helping the environment. They’ve protected more than 119 million acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide.


5. American Cancer Society

The Society is a global grassroots force dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. With millions of volunteers driving every part of their mission, they have a huge, loyal base of supporters ready to become legacy donors.


6. Best Friends Animal Society

While not the oldest organization on this list, Best Friends Animal Society is a powerhouse, attracting a huge number of legacy donors. This passionate animal organization operates the nation’s largest sanctuary for homeless animals, and also provides adoption, spay or neuter, and educational programs.


7. Wounded Warriors Project

WWP helps post 9/11 veterans and service members, providing a variety of programs around mental and physical wellness, career counseling, and more. Because of their powerful donor support, they make sure that vets never have to pay to get the help they need.


8. Sierra Club

The Sierra Club has more than 3.8 million members ready to make a difference by supporting conservation efforts and fighting for Earth's natural resources.


9. Equal Justice Initiative

EJI’s mission is to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, challenge racial and economic injustices, and protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable.


10. Environmental Defense Fund

Similar to many of the organizations on this list, EDF has dedicated members tackling some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges.


Here are the next ten organizations who’ve received millions of dollars via legacy gifts from hundreds of will-makers across the country:


11. National Public Radio
12. Humane Society of the United States
13. The Salvation Army
14. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
15. Earthjustice
16. International Rescue Committee
17. The Trevor Project
18. Catholic Relief Services
19. Feeding America
20. Heifer International


With the mean size of a bequest on FreeWill at just over $60,000, these are not inconsequential gifts. Plus, thousands of people use FreeWill everyday to write their wills and leave bequests, helping many organizations secure their future for years to come. The incredible part of this? More than two-thirds of these gifts go to organizations that are not yet a FreeWill partner. That means there are hundreds of nonprofits out there who are missing out on the crucial opportunity to thank, engage, and steward their most valuable donors. Not on the list? Find out if your nonprofit is one of them, and uncover your planned gifts today.