“To give away money is an easy matter and in any man's power. But to decide to whom to give it, and how large, and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man's power nor an easy matter." – Aristotle
Leveraging her family’s 300-year philanthropic legacy and her own 35 years of experience in the charitable sector, Sylvia Brown, CAP® is a passionate advocate of thoughtful and effective giving. After earning her BS and MA degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Sylvia pursued a career in international development from Wall Street to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, from investment promotion campaigns in emerging markets to micro-finance initiatives on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. In 2007, a course in strategic philanthropy at The Philanthropy Workshop (established by the Rockefeller and Hewlett Foundations) sparked her new mission to promote affordable donor education. For the past decade, she has helped donors with their giving strategies and non-profits with their sustainability, while becoming a Board Source Certified Governance Trainer and training with 21/64 (family dynamics) and For Impact/The Suddes Group (fundraising). In 2015, Sylvia launched Uplifting Journeys, “boot camps for smarter donors.” In 2017, she published “Grappling With Legacy – Rhode Island’s Brown Family and the American Philanthropic Impulse”. In 2018, she was certified as a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®)and was selected as an Encore Public Voices Fellow at the OpEd Project in the inaugural 2018/2019 cohort. In 2020, she continued her research into the charitable giving practices of small and midlevel donors, notably collaborating with Dr. Cal Halvorsen of Boston College’s School of Social Work to conduct a study of 1,200 donors who give between $2,000 and $20,000 annually. She also launched her three-hour, virtual donor education course, “Smart Donors…Make a Difference," which is specifically designed for this demographic.
In 2021, Sylvia’s virtual donor education course became international with a British version, ThinkingGiving, that is available to the general public.