Watermark Philanthropic Advising


Sharilyn is passionate about philanthropy.  She works with leading philanthropists and organizations across Canada and the Caribbean, helping them give with purpose, lead effectively and raise more money.  For more than 20 years Sharilyn has worked toward positive change through social justice and human service causes, international development and the arts.

Sharilyn loves supporting philanthropists and their families and is certified by the 21/64 Foundation in NYC to support multi-generational family philanthropy.  She believes good board governance is critical to community impact and public confidence, and is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer and member of the Institute of Corporate Directors.  Prior to establishing Watermark, she led the philanthropic programs at YWCA Toronto where she engaged the power of women’s philanthropy to advance the well-being of women and girls.  There she created and led Canada’s then largest fundraising campaign in support of affordable housing for the award winning YWCA Elm Centre.

She is a leadership volunteer for the Imagine Canada accreditation program for charities in Canada, and coaches organizations to achieve these standards.  Sharilyn also serves as Adjunct Faculty at Humber College where she teaches good governance principles to aspiring fundraisers.  She served as a Provincial Appointee to the Ontario Trillium Foundation, which is Canada’s largest grant-making foundation, is Past Chair of CFRE International, the global credential for fundraising professionals setting standards for ethical and effective practice, and was Governance Committee Chair for Canadian Feed the Children.

Sharilyn is an invited speaker and educator to professional communities around the world in the areas of philanthropy, board governance, and fund development.  She has has written numerous publications and is co-author of the classic text “Achieving Excellence in Fundraising” (3rd ed. 2011, Wiley), and “Excellence in Fundraising in Canada” (2011, Civil Sector Press), as well as “Giving in the Caribbean” for the Palgrave Handbook on Global Philanthropy (2015).  With an MA in Philanthropy & Development herself, Sharilyn was among a group of leaders to initiate Canada’s first graduate degree program in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Carleton University.  She is currently earning a doctorate in leadership with a research focus on governance and intergenerational succession in family foundations.


Sharilyn’s network within the local and global philanthropic and nonprofit communities is extensive.  To best meet your needs, Sharilyn is able to easily and effectively draw on or partner with other world-leading experts.  She is also affiliated with the following organizations: