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Case Study: Claude & Mary Greiner

Case Study: Claude & Mary Greiner

Philanthropic Strategy Helps Midwest Couple Do the Most Good


Return on Good helped the Greiners:

  • Create a Philanthropic Mission Statement
  • Complete a Giving Impact Record
  • Develop a Strategic Giving Plan
  • Establish a Donor Advised Fund
  • Facilitate the Gift with the Non-profit
  • Create Legacy Videos

In 2022, retired business owners Claude and Mary Greiner knew it was time to get their affairs in order. While they had always given of their time, talent and treasures, figuring out a plan for their estate—with thousands of acres of farmland, show cattle, buildings and more—felt overwhelming.

To help them through the estate planning process, including setting up a trust, the Wellman, Iowa, couple turned to Steve Bohr, co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies, who, like Claude and Mary, was raised on a farm in the Wellman area.

The Greiners knew they wanted their three adult children to each get 25 percent of their total estate. It was the remaining 25 percent that presented the challenge. Devote Catholics, Claude and Mary wanted the rest of their estate to “go to God” in the form of charitable contributions. It was their oldest daughter, Ann Oleson, co-founder of Return on Good, who encouraged them to be strategic in their charitable giving.

“Ann said, ‘Dad, you spent all your life thinking about how to make money and how to do good, and you’re not spending an iota of time on what to do with it,” recalls Claude, who along with Mary, owned a successful construction company that specialized in building agricultural facilities.

Claude and Mary’s daughters engaged with the Return on Good team to help the family create a solid philanthropic strategy.


“We wanted to honor our parents by making sure the money they were giving away went to causes and charities that were deserving of it and would do the most good with it,” Ann says.

Return on Good’s strategists had in-depth conversations with Claude and Mary to explore their passions, interests and values. Through the discovery process, the Return on Good team provided the Greiners with a Giving Impact Record, an accounting of their charitable donations over the years.

Through the process, the Greiners could clearly see that emotion—not strategy—was often behind their giving. While they had no regrets about supporting their local YMCA, Catholic Church, and high school, they decided they wanted their legacy to focus on two of their greatest passions: early childhood education and food security.

Why those two? Mary, a former teacher, founded and operated a preschool in Wellman for years. As for food security, both Mary and Claude grew up on Iowa farms and view the bounty of harvest and feeding the world as returning good.

“No child should ever go hungry,” Mary says. “We both believe that so strongly.”

For years, Mary had personally given to Mary’s Meals, a nonprofit that provides meals at school for some of the world’s poorest children. Mary was delighted to learn that Mary’s Meals received an “A” rating from Return on Good, which took a deep dive into the charity to determine how it uses resources to make an impact.

“It gave me peace of mind,” Mary says of the Return on Good Research Report.

Now that they have an impact mission and strategic giving plan in place, the Greiners know the 25 percent they’re leaving to God will make a long-term impact.

“We couldn’t be happier to leave a legacy that returns the most good to the world,” Claude says. “It was worth taking our time and being strategic.”

To inspire future generations, Claude and Mary allowed the Return on Good creative team to shoot video during the discovery process and turn it into a documentary-style video. The couple shared the keepsake video with their family over Thanksgiving.

“We hope our grandchildren, great-grandchildren and on down the line will understand the importance of giving back,” Claude says. “If it inspires them to continue what we started, that will be our greatest legacy.”

Ready to do the most good?

Return on Good can help you maximize the impact of your philanthropy through meaningful, long-term plans and facilitated gifts—and inspire future generations by capturing your Giving Story in a documentary-style video.