About the Author

Ron BrownAfter a successful career directing gift planning programs at Princeton University, United Way of America, the National Wildlife Federation, and other nonprofits, and serving on the boards of the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) and the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (NACGP), I realized something is missing in the toolbox of charitable gift planners. Something important!

Where do gift planners turn for knowledge about our rich history? Seminars rarely venture beyond the last few years. No one else is teaching or writing about charitable bequests, trusts, annuities, and gifts of complex assets by American colonists and citizens of the newborn United States.

I want to help you own what came before us. I will enable you to recognize new facets of yourself through true stories of real gift planners, donors, and historical events. Enlightened donors, gift planners and policymakers have clearer vision and become better at their jobs once you recover our proud American heritage.

After devoting thousands of hours to scholarly research and writing, I am making the results available to you through my presentation America is a Given Place, my book A History of Charitable Gift Planning (Amazon 2017), my free website http://www.giftplanninghistory.org. and many pro bono presentations for planned giving councils and conferences across America.

I have published dozens of articles for outlets such as Planned Giving Today, Taxwise Giving, the Planned Giving Design Center, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and others. I have provided entertaining and enlightening presentations for the American Council on Gift Annuities and the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, and delivered well-received sessions for Yale University, Princeton University, community foundations, and many church congregations.

In 1991 (32 years ago!) I was trained as a professional historian while serving with the US Naval Historical Center in Washington, DC. A retired Commander in the US Naval Reserve, I received two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for historical writing and research.

Not many gift planners had the academic preparation I am so grateful to receive, including an AB degree in English literature and philosophy from Princeton University and an MA degree from the University of Chicago, where for three years I studied the history of ideas and edited News & Notes, the newsletter of the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, a major research center. I was certified as a financial planner (CFP) in 1994.

I served as president of the Gift Planning Council of New Jersey and was founding chair of Leave a Legacy New Jersey. I am now a member of Princeton University’s Planned Giving Advisory Committee, served as Treasurer of the Friends of the Princeton University Library, and am an active member of the executive committee for the Princeton Class of 1972. I was a member of the CANARAS planned giving council for 16 years.

After moving to New York City in 2011 I served as director of gift planning at Fordham University and the Pratt Institute, and as a senior gift planner for Columbia University. I was a board member, mentor, and presenter for the Philanthropic Planning Group of Greater New York, which selected me for its Distinguished Service Award in 2019.

I was a member of an advisory council on planned giving for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, a Contributing Author for the Planned Giving Design Center, and served as a member of the Editorial Board for Planned Giving Today.

I have two children and two grandchildren, and I live in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

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