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 nine years, 182 nonprofit leaders from 85 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 2020

Welcome Cohort 9!

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

President, PMA Consulting LLC

Dr. McDowell has spent his entire career in fundraising and nonprofit leadership.  He started his consulting practice in 2009, and his firm has worked with over 220 organizations in the Carolinas. Before starting PMA Consulting, he spent a decade in higher education as Vice President for Advancement at Queens University, after serving in the same role at UNC Wilmington, where he was the youngest vice chancellor in the UNC system.

Prior to his tenure in higher education, he worked as the state Program Director for Special Olympics North Carolina (Raleigh, NC), and as an Assistant for Education & Training for Special Olympics International in Washington D.C. Patton is a native of Elizabeth City, NC, and received a BA in English Education from UNC Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He received his MBA from the McColl School of Business at Queens, and his doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California.  He is a certified Master Trainer for AFP International, and a Certified FundRaising Executive (CFRE).


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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