Registration is now closed. If you would like to register, please contact Elizabeth Kolb Farr at

The Independent Schools team of Grenzebach Glier and Associates (GG+A) is specifically devoted to supporting the fundraising efforts of schools. This Masterclass is our premier educational program designed specifically and only for independent school heads of school and advancement professionals.

Our first Masterclass was held in Philadelphia in June 2019, and – because of the COVID-19 pandemic – we converted the workshop to a webinar series in June 2020 and again in February 2021. Thanks to great feedback and continuing demand, we are bringing back the Masterclass again in summer 2021.


When: July 13 – 15, 2021


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


This webinar series is devoted to the art and science of major gifts work in independent schools. You will hear industry experts share best practices, powerful insights, and memorable examples of their experience raising major gifts in schools and providing counsel to those who do. Through lessons, case studies, and role-plays, participants will gain a deep understanding of major gifts best practices and learn how to deploy them.

All participants will be a member of a Masterclass cohort, a small group of participants from peer schools. Each cohort will engage in breakout discussions during the webinars and have two post-Masterclass check-ins with a GG+A faculty member.

Whether starting from scratch or improving upon an existing program, participants will come away from the Masterclass webinar series armed with strategic and practical tools to raise more major gifts, more effectively and more efficiently.

Continue scrolling to learn more about the three-day Masterclass, register, and process your payment for $645.

Independent School Major Gifts Masterclass: Schedule at a Glance


Tuesday, July 13


11 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. EDT

Session 1: Institutional Priorities and Effective Portfolio & Prospect Management

Effectively sharing your school’s vision and the impact that a significant gift will have is essential to meeting your goals. In this session, we will provide guidance to help you align your fundraising strategy with your school’s priorities, and manage your portfolio to ensure the attainment of individual and office goals.


1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT

Session 2: Securing, Preparing for, and Conducting Qualification Visits

Identifying donors’ capacity, values, affinity, and inclination —and aligning their philanthropic interests with institutional priorities—is critical to major gifts success. In this session, we will discuss effective approaches to engaging prospects in discussion, exploring their potential capability and inclination to make a major gift, and capturing information that helps decide where to take the relationship next.


Wednesday, July 14


11 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. EDT

Session 3: Strategic and Effective Cultivation

In order to lead to best gifts, cultivation must be much more than lunch. In this session, we will explore how to develop a deep understanding of prospects’ motivations for giving and philanthropic passions. Using a paradigm of prospects as partners, participants will learn how to engage and move prospects toward donor readiness.


1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT

Session 4: Soliciting, Negotiating, and Closing Gifts

Successful solicitations require thoughtful planning, the right partners, and ability to deal with objections. This session will prepare you to know when the time is right to make the ask, how to deliver a successful proposal, and how to strengthen the likelihood of a mutually joyful outcome.


Thursday, July 15


11 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. EDT

Session 5: Term Funds and Planned Giving

In this session we’ll talk about how utilizing term fund gift opportunities is both meaningful to the school’s operating budget and engaging for donors who want to make an impact right away. We will also discuss strategies for using planned giving vehicles and blended gifts to advance major gifts conversations and secure more contributions for the school.


1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT

Session 6: Building Relationships through Stewardship

Delivering personalized, meaningful stewardship is essential to renewing – and upgrading – a major donor’s support for the school. In this session, we will provide guidance for creating a stewardship strategy, shared by the school and its gift officers, to support relationship-building efforts with top donors.

Masterclass Faculty


Elizabeth Kolb Farr

Elizabeth Kolb Farr, Senior Vice President
Before joining GG+A, Liz spent 35 years in independent schools–as a student; as a teacher, dorm parent, and coach; and as a development professional. Liz’s lengthy and successful career as an independent school fundraiser included leadership of programs in annual giving, major gifts, capital campaigns, planned giving, alumni engagement, and fundraising events. Among other roles, she served as Associate Director of Development at The Shipley School, as Director of Development at Epiphany School (WA), and as Director of Annual Giving at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. Liz is an alumna of Friends’ Central School and Vassar College.


Shelby LaMarShelby LaMarVice President
Shelby has more than 20 years of experience in independent school advancement, directing annual funds, managing advancement services, creating communication plans, and leading capital campaigns. Shelby is currently in his twelfth year at Lancaster Country Day School (LCDS) as the Chief Advancement Officer, where he is overseeing the school’s second major campaign in a seven-year period. Prior to LCDS, Shelby served as the Associate Director of Development at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School (Alexandria, VA). Shelby received his bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University and earned his MBA from Elizabethtown College and also knows independent schools both as a parent at LCDS and a lifer at his own alma mater, St. Anne’s-Belfield (Charlottesville, VA).


Jim McKey, Senior Vice President
Jim began his career as an educator in independent schools, teaching history and providing counseling to college-bound students, before he segued to become Director of Development at Friends’ Central School. During that tenure, Jim served as President of the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools. Next Jim was Director of Advancement for George School, which under his leadership received the CASE Circle of Excellence Award for overall fundraising performance. His cultivation and stewardship of the School’s lead donor paved the way for a $128 million gift, the largest gift ever to an independent school, and a subsequent bequest of $30 million. Finally, Jim served for 12 years as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Earlham College, his alma mater, where he managed a staff of 25 and oversaw development, alumni relations, foundation relations, and communications. Under his leadership, Earlham completed a comprehensive campaign that raised $68 million, surpassing its $60 million goal.

Christen WilsonVice President
Before joining GG+A, Christen spent nearly 20 years serving independent school and higher education advancement programs, shaping and strengthening their fundraising, engagement and communications initiatives. Throughout her career, Christen has helped institutions attract millions of dollars of support for capital building projects, new and existing program and faculty endowments, scholarship campaigns, and annual operating support. She began her career in fundraising at Malvern Preparatory School and most recently served as Head of Advancement, Marketing & Communications at Magellan International School. Additionally, Christen served in fundraising leadership roles at Saint Joseph’s University and Cabrini University. She is an independent school parent and an alumna of Bucknell University.

What past attendees have said about the
Major Gifts Masterclass

“From a practical standpoint, I learned several key phrases that I use daily in calls, emails, and handwritten letters. This newly found language has helped me build confidence with donors. Equally important, it has helped me secure major gifts.”

Conor McCabe, Assistant Director of Major Gifts at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School (2020 participant)

“GG+A's Masterclass was a terrific 'how-to' and 'best practices' in this critical area of fundraising concentration for all independent schools. While we have been operating successfully in managing major gifts and in capital campaigns, GG+A helped us focus better and become more intentional approaching our major gifts efforts from A to Z. It was also incredibly valuable to bring my colleague who works alongside me in major gifts, so our team is all on the same page.”

- Erich Hunker, Assistant Head of School, Development/External Relations at Columbus Academy (2019 participant)

“The whole program was well planned and executed. I was apprehensive about not being able to connect with colleagues virtually, but the program allowed for numerous times to connect outside of the sessions.”

Ashley Stone, Director of Major Gifts at St. Stephen’s St. Agnes School (2020 participant)

“The GG+A Masterclass was one of the most useful and immediately applicable professional development programs I have ever done. The instructors offered lots of strategic and tactical guidance. Plus, built in to the agenda are plenty of opportunities to exchange ideas with and learn from other attendees. I walked away with a list of action items that I could implement right away and an even longer list of initiatives to consider with my team over time.”

Hutchey Doley, Associate Director of Development at National Cathedral School (2019 participant)

Registration Information

Registration fee $645


  • 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 school 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 Damian Chlanda 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.