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Norton Philanthropic Counsel was founded to provide institutions, organizations and individuals with the strategic and highly personalized attention needed to reach their philanthropic goals. Blending the art and science of philanthropy, Melanie J. Norton provides professional and results-focused counsel to help institutions, organizations and individuals better understand their unique circumstances and develop a comprehensive and effective plan to achieve their mission.    

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Melanie J. Norton, CFRE MBA

Founder and Philanthropic Consultant

Melanie J. Norton is passionate about philanthropy and the success of individuals and organizations that enhance the world in which we live.  As an accomplished professional and leader, Melanie fueled her drive to make a meaningful impact with nonprofits and individuals throughout the nation by founding Norton Philanthropic Counsel (NPC). Her unique and broad-based background blends for-profit and not-for-profit experience in both business and fundraising.  This specialized lens provides for a deep and comprehensive understanding of traditional business practice and allows her a creative, intentional and outcomes-focused perspective. Melanie’s experience helps her provide the highly customized and relationship-focused strategies needed for client success. She possesses an unwavering commitment to authenticity and honesty in her work.

Prior to the launch of NPC, Melanie was most recently the vice president for development and alumni engagement at DePauw University where she led the University to more than $320 million of a successful $383 million comprehensive campaign, surpassing the original goal some 2 ½ years in advance of the campaign’s end. In this role, Melanie oversaw the strategy and fundraising efforts for the University and restructured and managed a staff of nearly 40 full-time development and alumni professionals.

Melanie was previously a consultant with Johnson, Grossnickle + Associates, a full-service philanthropic consulting firm. During her time at JGA, Melanie consulted on all phases of philanthropic work including feasibility studies, capital campaigns, quantitative and qualitative analyses, and major gift and development plan creation. Her development work prior to JGA included eleven years in leadership roles in gift planning and major gifts for DePauw and Franklin College. Melanie’s first career was in banking where she served as an AVP in the Retail and Trust & Investment Advisors divisions of Fifth Third Bank for seven years. 

Melanie is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), holding an M.B.A. from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a B.A. in business from Franklin College. She is past national chairman of the board for the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (CGP) – the premier organization serving the thousands of individuals across the nation whose work involves charitable gift planning – where she led the organization through a hallmark name change and rebranding effort during her year of chairmanship (2016).  She was invited to be a member of the Leadership Institute for CGP in 2020.

Melanie has presented for a number of organizations and conferences across the nation on a variety of topics involving philanthropic work and planning. She is a board member for The Cabaret, one of the nation's preeminent organizations dedicated to world-class cabaret performance. She is also past president and former board member of the Planned Giving Group of Indiana, past president and former board member of the Rotary Club of Indianapolis–Sunrise, and previously served on the board of the Independent College Advancement Associates as well as several other volunteer and social service organizations.  

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