America is a Given Place

Where do charitable gift planners, fund raisers, trust officers, attorneys and financial advisors turn for knowledge of events that shape their work today?

In an entertaining presentation entitled America is a Given Place you will learn the original foundations of gift planning in the U.S. from the Pilgrims to today’s gifts.

Knowledge of history is the soundest foundation for planning for the future. Now you can see how gift planning through charitable bequests, trusts, annuities, and gifts of complex assets began with America’s first colonists, flourished in the newborn United States, and took shape through important Supreme Court decisions, federal legislation, and the founding of the American Council on Gift Annuities and the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners.

The live presentation is based on my 40 years as a charitable gift planner, including 15 years as director of gift planning at Princeton University, my alma mater. I was trained as a professional historian 30 years ago and have devoted thousands of hours to scholarly research and writing. I published some of the results in A History of Charitable Gift Planning (Amazon 2017) and add content from time to time at

America is a Given Place includes more than 50 colorful slides with a lively and well-documented narrative. Participants receive a valuable outline and bibliography (free!).  If you want to do so, your organization may record the session and post it on your website for future reference.

There is no charge for gift planning council meetings and conferences except for nominal travel expenses. There is a fee of $250 for other nonprofit organizations and $500 for for-profit firms plus travel expenses.

To schedule America is a Given Place please call Ronald Brown at 646-581-4867 or write to

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“Donation Mania” in 1786!

Dr. Benjamin Rush was a pioneer in the care of mentally ill patients. He wrote a satire in 1786 entitled “On the Different Species of Manias” in the brand-new United States of America, including “Donation Mania,” which afflicted those who “impoverished their families, by extravagant contributions to public undertakings, or who neglect their relations at their death, by bequeathing their estates to hospitals, colleges, and churches.”

You can learn a lot from reading satire! Rush wrote this with tongue in cheek, but his readers must have known people in 18th century America who seemed to have “donation mania.”

God bless them!