Leadership Gift School


Leadership Gift School: Elevate Your Nonprofit's Philanthropy Program

Are you a nonprofit executive seeking to take your major gift philanthropy program to new heights? Look no further than Leadership Gift School (LGS). This transformative cohort-based program takes place each Spring season, and is designed exclusively for nonprofit CEOs and Development Directors who are committed to advancing their fundraising strategies and building highly trained teams.

Join a Dynamic Learning Community

At LGS, we believe that the power of collaboration and peer learning is unmatched. As a member of our exclusive community, you will participate in five comprehensive six-hour sessions, including two that involve your nonprofit's board members. These sessions, which include a mix of in-person and online meetings, provide a unique opportunity to learn from experts, engage with donors, analyze field research, delve into case studies, and complete both in-class and out-of-class assignments.

Proven Success

With a track record of success spanning over a decade, Leadership Gift School has graduated 253 nonprofit leaders from 101 organizations. Our program's excellence has been validated by an independent study conducted by UNC Charlotte, and features the direct participation of the experienced philanthropy leaders who serve on the IPL Board of Directors. When you join LGS, you become part of a powerful network of professionals who have unlocked the secrets to building and growing highly effective major gift philanthropy programs.

Key Focus Areas

Through LGS, you will gain the expertise needed to:

              • Increase individual giving and reduce reliance on corporate support.
              • Design and implement customized leadership gift strategies tailored to your organization.
              • Cultivate funding opportunities that attract major gifts from $10,000 to $1 million+
              • Foster long-term relationships with donors and grantors that lead to sustained funding.
              • Involve your board in philanthropic advocacy and action.
              • Foster a culture of ethical fundraising organization-wide.
              • Make major and leadership gift development a top priority for your nonprofit.

Who Should Attend?

The LGS program is a hybrid experience comprising five sessions, with the first and last being in-person and the middle three conducted via Zoom. Both CEOs and Development Directors are required to participate in all sessions, ensuring a cohesive and collaborative learning journey. Additionally, board members are invited to attend two of the modules to deepen their understanding of philanthropic best practices.

Program Fees

The LGS program costs $3,500 for each participating organization, which covers the CEO/ED and primary Development Director.  Additional members of the leadership team may participate for $500 each.

Apply Today for the Next Cohort

If you are ready to transform your nonprofit's philanthropy program, we invite you to complete the application form (APPLY HERE) to express your interest in attending a future cohort of Leadership Gift School (Cohort 13 begins in January, 2025). We prioritize a diverse group of nonprofits that are prepared to implement the established practices taught in our program. Join us and unlock the full potential of your organization's fundraising efforts.

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.

Leadership Gift School Graduates
Click here
 to view our graduates through 2023
View Cohort 11 presentation clips here



January 17, 2025 - In person
February 21, 2025 - Virtual session
March 21, 2025 - In person with board member participation
April 25, 2025 - Virtual session
May 9, 2025 - In person with final presentations

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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Read about all the events coming up for Leadership Gift School, while also reading the latest news about the Institute.
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