As institutions of higher education look to increase philanthropic support to help offset the dramatic, immediate impact the pandemic has had on earned revenue, building a robust major gifts programme has been critical to supporting the mission. GG+A is committed to helping you be successful in this work. This Masterclass is our premier educational programme designed specifically for fundraising professionals in higher education who serve in frontline fundraising roles or support those who do.

This Masterclass is devoted to the art and science of major gifts work in higher education institutions. You will hear industry experts share best practices, powerful insights, and memorable examples of their experience raising major gifts and providing counsel to our higher education clients. Through lessons, case studies, and guided discussions, participants will gain a deep understanding of major gifts best practices and learn how to deploy them.

When: 11 – 13 November 2020


Six Focused Workshop Topics and Two Post-Webinar Follow-Up Sessions


Continue scrolling to learn more about the three-day Masterclass, register, and process your payment for £395 / €425.

European Higher Education Major Gifts

Schedule at a Glance


Wednesday 11 November


12:00 BST / 13:00 CEST / 14:00 EET

Session 1: Communicating institutional priorities and impact

Sharing your organisation’s vision and the expected impact of significant gifts is essential to meeting your goals. In this session, we will provide guidance to help you align your fundraising strategy with your organisation’s priorities, articulate your case for support, and define impact.


13:30 BST / 14:30 CEST / 15:30 EET



14:00 BST / 15:00 CEST / 16:00 EET

Session 2: Building relationships – qualification and cultivation

In order to secure major gifts, cultivation must be much more than lunch (especially Zoom lunch). In this session, we will discuss effective approaches to intentionally engaging prospects in discussion and capturing information that helps decide where to take the relationship next. Then we will explore how to develop a deep understanding of prospects’ motivations for giving and philanthropic passions. Participants will learn how to engage and move prospects towards donor readiness for both in-person and virtual settings.


Thursday 12 November


12:00 BST / 13:00 CEST / 14:00 EET

Session 3: Effective portfolio management

Major gift staff, whether new or experienced, need continual focus on managing their portfolio of assigned prospective donors. This session emphasises best practices on portfolio size and composition, and timely movement of prospects through the major gift cycle.


13:30 BST / 14:30 CEST / 15:30 EET



14:00 BST / 15:00 CEST / 16:00 EET

Session 4: Managing the ask – soliciting, negotiating, and closing gifts

Successful solicitations require thoughtful planning, the right partners, and the ability to overcome objections. This session will prepare you to know when the time is right to make the ask, how to deliver a successful proposal, who should be involved in the solicitation, and how to strengthen the likelihood of a mutually beneficial outcome.


Friday 13 November


12:00 BST / 13:00 CEST / 14:00 EET

Session 5: Working with key fundraising partners

In this current environment, collaborating with key partners such as board members and institutional leadership is more important than ever. Yet many organisations struggle with how to deploy leadership in ways that advance fundraising objectives. This session will provide a framework for engaging your board, academic, and institutional leaders in cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship in ways that are effective, meaningful, and efficient.


13:30 BST / 14:30 CEST / 15:30 EET



14:00 BST / 15:00 CEST / 16:00 EET

Session 6: A comprehensive fundraising programme – working with annual giving, alumni relations, and planned giving

Major gifts fundraising is a critical part of your institution’s fundraising programme, but to build a comprehensive programme we must collaborate with our colleagues. This session will focus on building a bridge between leadership annual giving and major gifts that helps move donors up the philanthropic continuum, using blended gifts to advance major gift conversations, and harnessing the power of your alumni network.

European Higher Education Major Gifts Masterclass Team


Suzanne Hilser-Wiles

Suzanne Hilser-Wiles, President,
partners with GG+A clients around the globe to help them elevate their fundraising by offering more than 25 years of experience in advancement, program building, and campaign planning and implementation. Among her current and recent clients in the arts and culture sector are the Art Institute of Chicago, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Center Theatre Group, Folger Shakespeare Library, The Getty, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Tate. Prior to joining GG+A, she held senior fundraising positions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she served as Vice Chancellor for Advancement, overseeing fundraising, marketing, and communications for this public conservatory.

Suzanne joined GG+A in 2011 and was appointed to the firm’s executive committee in 2013. In 2016, she became the firm’s first woman president in its nearly 60-year history. In addition to her other responsibilities, she leads the firm’s Europe and U.K. practice.


Pete Lasher, Senior Vice President,
brings to the firm more than 25 years of successful fundraising experience, including leadership of five separate billion-dollar capital campaigns at both private and public institutions in the US. As a consultant, he has advised universities in North America and the UK that are in or have successfully completed campaigns ranging from $300 million to $2.5 billion.

Throughout his career, Pete has specialized in driving fundraising performance by utilizing philanthropic analytics and performance metrics to achieve campaign goals. He has particular expertise in board and volunteer management, campaign operations, major and principal gift program management, performance analytics, and fundraising training of development staff and academic and volunteer leadership.

Pete most recently served as the Associate Vice President for University Development for Michigan State University’s Advancement team, where he directed campaign operations and managed a fundraising staff. Previously, Pete was Associate Vice President for University Development at Georgetown University and served as Associate Senior Vice President of Development at the University of Southern California.

Pete has also held leadership positions at other premier institutions, including Associate Dean for Development and Alumni Relations at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and Assistant Dean for External Relations at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.


Melinda Church

Melinda Church, Senior Vice President, and Managing Director,
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.


Adrian SalmonAdrian Salmon, Vice President GG+A Europe,
brings 20 years of direct-marketing fundraising experience in the higher education, arts and culture, and wider nonprofit spheres.

His particular expertise includes direct mail fundraising, annual giving program management, and management of contributions from integrated mail and online appeals.Before joining GG+A in 2015, Adrian was Footsteps Fund Manager at the University of Leeds, where he dramatically increased the University’s number of donors, annual giving income, and contributions from integrated mail and online appeals.

Adrian also implemented an automated propensity scoring system, the first to be used by a university in the United Kingdom, and designed and implemented the University’s first dedicated 20-seat fundraising call center. Prior to joining the University of Leeds, Adrian served for more than nine years with The Phone Room Ltd. as Director of Client Services and as Head of TPR Education. He headed numerous awardwinning telephone campaigns for nonprofit clients, including the National Galleries of Scotland, Symphony Hall Birmingham, and the Southbank Centre. He also established successful telephone fundraising campaigns for University of Salford and Birkbeck, University of London.

Feedback from previous Masterclass participants

“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.”

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

Registration Information

Registration fee £395 / €425


  • 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 programme. However, should an attendee cancel fewer than 10 business days prior, another attendee from the same organisation 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.

Cancellation requests must be made in writing by emailing Keli Change at

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.

Payment will be processed in USD

Please note that payment will be processed in US Dollars, and conversion rates will differ slightly depending on when you register. At present, the $505 USD price per registrant will convert to approximately £395 GBP or €425 Euros.