What Should We Learn from the Giving USA Report? (Melissa Brown)  

October 2020

You've likely seen the numbers each year that represent philanthropic support in the United States through the Giving USA report.  The question is, do you really understand what the numbers mean, and how they apply to you and your nonprofit?  There is no one better suited to help us understand those questions than Melissa Brown, who has spent some of her stellar 30-year career actually editing the Giving USA report.  In this bonus episode of the Path podcast, #62, Melissa shares practical applications of the data, as well as multiple ways you can better position your nonprofit to take advantage of donor trends and preferences.  

"The trends are clear; people want to know how their gift will make a difference, and they want an easy way to give."


Melissa helps charities turn knowledge into action. Drawing on nearly 30 years in the nonprofit sector, Melissa knows what drives charities to deliver on their mission. She uses research about giving trends and donor motivations to help clients plan effective fundraising; consulting services include presentations, training, surveys, and program evaluation. She was rated as one of the country's top philanthropy speakers in 2016.

Melissa began work as a fundraiser in 1989. Since 2011, her firm Melissa S. Brown & Associates has served clients throughout North America. Major projects include The Fund Raising School, evaluation for Indiana Youth Institute, data analysis for National Philanthropic Counsel, and project management for Carter, a global consulting firm based in Florida. She also volunteers with AFP Research Council and currently chairs the Association of Philanthropic Counsel. Before founding Melissa S. Brown & Associates in 2011, Melissa worked at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, where she edited Giving USA. She studied at Reed College and the University of Pennsylvania. Melissa & her historian husband live in southern Washington state, where they are reveling in the mild climate of Zone 8b after 30+ years in gardening Zone 5a. She enjoys kayaking, bird watching, and spending time with family and friends. Her own giving focuses on climate change mitigation, the arts, and social justice.