Sylvia Brown Smart Donors

Research & Writing

The Giving Habits of Mid Level Donors

In collaboration with the Boston College School of Social Work

Read the Chronicle of Philanthropy article on this survey.
Read Philanthropy’s Missing Middle – Characteristics of MidLevel Donors (5 part series).

Individual Americans donated $327 billion to charity in 2021. Almost half this sum came from donors who earned under $200,000*. Yet little is known about the needs and behavior of Small (who give under $1,000 a year) and Midlevel donors (who give between $2,000 and $20,000 a year).

Sylvia Brown conducts research and writes regularly about these overlooked and underserved demographics.  She has identified a noticeable shift in giving behavior at $150,000 in annual income, a level considerably below the minimum considered “High Net Worth” and well below the earnings required for access to the philanthropy advisory services of private banks or consultants.

Sylvia’s research shows that Small and Midlevel donors care deeply about their giving and are eager to learn how to be more effective – so long as this requires a minimal investment in time and money. To this end, Sylvia developed Smart Donors… Make a Difference, a simple, engaging curriculum to equip individual donors with tools to make smarter decisions.

Chronicle of Philanthropy, 2019

Sylvia’s research is of particularly interest to advisors of mid-size clients looking to improve their customer relations at minimal cost.


As Donors Return to Old Patterns of Giving, Here’s How to Ensure Nonprofits Get the Resources They Need

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy. As America begins to reopen and the economic forecast brightens, many people in the nonprofit world are hoping we are about to usher in a permanent change in the way donors give.

It May Be Time To Rethink Your Annual College Donation

Alumni often donate to their universities to allow others the same experience. But would their donation have a much greater impact at local public universities or nonprofits that help send students to college?

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy: All Donors Need More Education — Not Just the Wealthy

Why Donor Education is so Badly Needed….

The Joy That Comes from Smarter Giving – a recipe for greater donor (and client) satisfaction

Giving to Aging Causes is Investing in YOUR Future Self

My time as an Encore Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project has opened my eyes to the reality that aging is the one challenge we all will experience regardless of our socio-economic background.

Encouraging News in the Fight Against Poverty and Inequality

The Graduation Approach is It is moving out of extreme, destitute poverty into sustainable and holistic livelihoods in a way that really alters the social and economic dynamics for the participants.

Five Ways To Give With More Impact This Holiday Season

Last year, individual donors gave $280 billion to 1.5 million non-profits. The vast majority of Americans claim to care about charitable effectiveness, yet only 15% spend even two hours a year investigating how to achieve meaningful impact.