As colleges and universities of all sizes seek to increase philanthropic support, communicating mission, impact, and a clear case for support is critical.

GG+A is committed to helping you be successful in this work. This Masterclass is our premier educational program designed specifically for advancement professionals who serve in communication roles and gift officers who write proposals and other donor materials.

Participants will gain insights into best practices in crafting winning propositions across a wide range of gift types and levels. Sessions will cover:

  • defining your institution’s impact
  • forging strong writer-gift officer-faculty partnerships
  • developing winning proposals, concept papers, and pitch decks
  • creating inspirational annual giving messages


When: November 17-18


Four Focused Workshop Topics

Continue scrolling to learn more about the two-day Masterclass.

Communications Strategy Masterclass:

Schedule at a Glance


Tuesday, Nov 17, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. CST

1. Defining Your Institution’s Impact

With stiff competition for philanthropic support today, it’s essential to clearly articulate your institution’s vision and aspirations and the expected impact of a gift on your students, faculty, and the world. In this session, we will provide guidance to help you to define your impact and your philanthropic priorities in ways that set your donors’ sights higher.


2. Forging Strong Writer-Gift Officer-Faculty Partnerships

Writing a proposal or donor-impact piece alone is like playing darts blindfolded—your chances of hitting the bull’s eye are slim, and the process is maddening. Gift officers and faculty have the essential information, and working directly with them is the fastest way to create the most effective pieces. In this session, we’ll work through some principles and best practices, with case studies to illustrate points. We’ll share key questions to have at the ready for opportunities that arise quickly.


Wednesday, Nov 18, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. CST

3. Developing Winning Gift Opportunities for Major and Principal Donors

Concept papers, proposals, cases, and pitch decks have different strategic uses to engage and gain support from donors. We’ll discuss the key elements of each, and share examples of how our clients are using them successfully with donors. This session will include considerations in: audience, structure, style, and the use of emotion and data.


4. Writing Annual Appeals that Capture Attention and Inspire Action

Looking out at the world today, annual giving and leadership annual giving teams can be understandably anxious about reaching out to regular donors. But if you want to build and maintain a program that can power through challenging times, now is not a time to pull back. Rather, it’s a time to re-think and re-fresh your approach. In this session, we will cover all the aspects of writing great appeals, offering best practices and insights from case studies on how to lay a strategic foundation, select the right stories, capture attention with creative concepts, and inspire action through bold headlines and a “donor-focused” voice.

Communications Strategy Masterclass Team


Melinda Church

Melinda Church, Senior Vice President,
leads the firm’s Strategic Communications practice area. She is accomplished in accelerating the mission of others by growing revenue and positioning of organizations and large-scale change initiatives.

Since joining GG+A, she has partnered with more than seven dozen clients to accelerate their missiondriven goals, grow their philanthropic support, and elevate their reputation. Her work with clients includes philanthropic priority setting; case and proposal development; organizational structures, development, and planning; issue mitigation; and new leader coaching; among other activities.

Before joining GG+A in 2016, Melinda served in numerous leadership positions in higher education at the University of Virginia and The Ohio State University, among other colleges and universities. At U.Va, she worked for President John Casteen during public higher education’s first billion-dollar campaign. Much of her work there involved institutional and executive positioning, speech writing, and case and proposal writing.

As Vice President of University Communications and Marketing at Ohio State, Melinda oversaw the full range of marketing, branding, communications, and public relations functions. She developed the University’s first unified visual identity, led communications strategy for corporate affinity partnerships that generated more than $500 million, and led successful mitigation strategies for issues that presented significant challenges to institutional reputation. As Vice President, Advancement Integration and Communications, she worked with deans and others to develop concepts, white papers, and proposals for eight- and nine-figure gifts; create optimal structures for fundraising communications across the institution; and conceive engaging events for volunteer leaders.


Chris Begley

Chris Begley, Senior Vice President,
joined GG+A in 2018 to bring her deep museum experience to a wide variety of arts and culture clients.

She enjoys collaborating with clients to find solutions to their biggest challenges and brings particular expertise in program analysis, crafting inspirational messaging, identifying opportunities and strategies for growth, and strategic planning and priority setting. Her current and former clients include Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Foundation Stanford, Emory University, Yeshiva University, Montclair State University, Mount Allison University, and J. Paul Getty Trust.

Before joining GG+A, Chris spent three years as the Vice President of Development at the American Academy in Rome, where she oversaw all aspects of fundraising in the United States and in Italy. Chris also enjoyed a seventeen-year career at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, at which she occupied a full range of fundraising positions.


Jason ShoughJason Shough, Vice President,
provides integrated communications counsel and responsive creative services for clients in higher education, healthcare, and arts and culture. His expertise in cross-channel communications strategy, creative direction and verbal branding helps clients activate their communities of supporters, energize their advancement programs, and build their philanthropic brands.

His current work with GG+A clients includes vision and priority setting, case writing, campaign communications planning, institutional branding, strategic messaging, direct appeal copywriting, executive speechwriting, and message refinement via digital workshops with advancement communications teams.

Prior to joining GG+A, Jason was Associate Creative Director of copywriting at SimpsonScarborough, where he led cross-disciplinary teams in developing marketing campaigns and brand training programs for higher ed clients. He also created impactful brand messaging for more than 50 clients as a Senior Copywriter at two creative agencies: GSW Advertising and Ologie.

Earlier in his career, Jason served in multiple executive communications roles at The Ohio State University. First as a Speechwriter for the Office of the President, and later as Communications Director for the President Emeritus, he drafted remarks, editorials, tweets, digital stories, and press briefings to advance the university leadership’s goals.

Please see feedback from a few of our past Masterclass participants

“I was very impressed with the Masterclass – absolutely the best workshop I have attended!”

“GG+A’s Masterclass provided clear, specific recommendations. So many other training sessions keep things vague and general, so I really appreciated the specificity – it is much more actionable.”

Registration Information

Registration fee $395


  • Registered attendees who cancel 10 or more business days prior to the Masterclass will be refunded the full registration fee.
  • There will be no refunds for cancellations made fewer than 10 business days before the start of the program. However, should an attendee cancel fewer than 10 business days prior, another attendee from the same organization may attend instead at no additional cost.
  • A no-show to the Masterclass does not constitute a cancellation. No refunds will be given to no-shows.

Confirmation of Masterclasses

Occasionally, GG+A may be forced to cancel a scheduled workshop due to insufficient registration. If this is the case, we will cancel the workshop no later than 10 business days prior to the start date. In the unlikely circumstance this happens, registrants will receive a cancellation notice 10 business days prior to the start of the Masterclass.

Registration is closed

Please direct any inquiries to Keli Change at