Community Orgs Grants

E.C. Community Foundation Receives Largest Legacy Gift Ever

$4.75 million gift from estate of Bill Bingham will boost foundation’s ability to make grants

V1 Staff |

BINGHAM'S GIFT. William "Bill" A. Bingham (pictured), a longtime Chippewa Valley resident, made a record-breaking gift to the Eau Claire Community Foundation. (Photo of sunset at Phoenix Park by Andrea Paulseth)

The Eau Claire Community Foundation recently received a $4.75 million legacy gift from a lifelong community member, William “Bill” A. Bingham.

A $4.75 million bequest to establish an unrestricted endowment fund was part of Bingham’s estate. From this gift alone, ECCF will more than double its granting power. The total amount available annually to grant, from unrestricted funds, will increase from about $140,000 to more than $330,000, according to a recent media release. These grants will support an array of local nonprofits.

“This is the single largest gift received in the Foundation’s 26 years of existence,” said Sue Bornick, the foundation’s executive director. “This one gift will make an incredible impact in our community forever!”

Although Bingham passed away in April 2021, this gift ensures that the impact of his generosity will live on for generations to come. The gift makes Bingham a member of ECCF’s Legacy Society, which recognizes donors who have made provisions in their estate plans to provide a gift to ECCF for the causes they care about most. More than 200 individuals are part of the Legacy Society.

“This is the single largest gift received in the foundation’s 26 years of existence.”

sue bornick

executive director of eccf

Bingham was born and raised in Eau Claire, and after graduating from UW-Madison following high school, he returned to Eau Claire. He worked for Cox Realty, which eventually became Bingham Realty. Bingham was known for his sense of humor, great stories, quick wit, and his fondness for dogs, sailing, and traveling, the media release noted.

Jim Chumas, one of Bingham’s longtime friends and the executor of his estate, was not surprised to learn of Bingham’s gift ECCF. Chumas’ ties to Bingham began in the 1940s thanks to his grandmother and Bingham’s mother, Anna Knobel Bingham, meeting in Eau Claire and becoming friends. Many decades of Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holiday dinners together developed an exceptional friendship between the Bingham and Chumas families.

“Bill loved Eau Claire,” Chumas said. “He did a lot of traveling, but Eau Claire was always his home. He was a big believer in the community and in the quality of life we all enjoy.”

ECCF Board Chair Tom Larson said Bingham’s gift will accelerate the Foundation to its next level, further ensuring the Foundation’s ability to support community needs. “We’re extremely grateful for this gift,” Larson said. “Bill’s donation ensures that we’ll be able to make more grants and address more needs than we ever have before. Because it will be endowed, his gift will benefit the Eau Claire community both now and far into the future.”

Learn more about the Eau Claire Community Foundation, how to join the Legacy Society, or start your own fund by visiting