Leadership Gift School


Interested in Cohort 12 (2024)?  Scroll down for details 

Leadership Gift School

Nonprofit CEOs and Development Directors are invited as a team. Five sessions, including two that include members of each nonprofit's board, plus one on one individualized orientation, offer a unique experience to build highly trained teams who can effectively advance the way fundraising is implemented. As a member of this peer learning community, you will discover what it takes to build and grow the most successful philanthropy program possible for your unique organization. Throughout the five sessions, you will hear from experts and donors, review the field research, read the professional literature, examine case-studies, and participate in class and out-of-class assignments to ensure the effective implementation of LGS principles.

Over the last ten years, 221 nonprofit leaders from 90 nonprofit organizations have graduated from this highly acclaimed program, evaluated by an independent UNCC study.


  • Increase individual giving and reduce dependency on corporate support
  • Design/implement leadership gift strategies unique to each organization
  • Create funding opportunities that will attract major gifts: 10,000 to 1M range
  • Improve understanding of donor psychology and philanthropic behavior
  • Develop relationships with donors/grantors that result in long-term funding
  • Increase board involvement in philanthropic advocacy & action
  • Expand responsibility for ethical fundraising, beyond the development office
  • Make major/leadership gift development a top priority of the organization

CEOs and Development Directors are both required to participate in all sessions.
Board members are invited to attend two half-day sessions.
Applications are required to ensure a diverse group of nonprofits that are prepared
to implement the established practices.
Please complete the following form if you are interested in attending future cohorts.

Leadership Gift School Graduates
Click here
 to view our graduates through 2022



Patton McDowell will serve as lead faculty and facilitator for this cohort.

Founder, PMA Nonprofit Leadership

Patton McDowell is the founder of PMA Nonprofit Leadership, a firm he founded after a successful twenty-year career in the nonprofit sector. He is a frequently sought-after leadership coach and speaker on nonprofit issues of fundraising, strategic planning and the executive skills critical to a leader's personal and professional success. Patton received a BA in Education from UNC Chapel Hill where he was a Morehead Scholar, an MBA from the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte, and a Doctorate in Education (Organizational Change and Leadership) from the University of Southern California. He is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), a Master Trainer for AFP International, and an Executive in Residence at Cornell University's Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy.  Patton hosts the weekly podcast Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership and is the author of a book by the same name, Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership. 


About the Institute

The Institute for Philanthropic Leadership was established as an umbrella organization for a number of efforts, including the Leadership Gift School.
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