The Independent Schools Practice Area 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 advancement professionals who serve in frontline fundraising roles or support those who do.

Our first Masterclass was held in Philadelphia in June 2019, and – because of the COVID-19 pandemic and by popular demand – we are converting the workshop to a webinar series for 2020.

A robust major gifts program should always be a priority for an independent school, but as the country weathers the pandemic and the related financial implications, schools are likely to rely more heavily on major gifts to increase philanthropic support.


When: June 23 – 25, 2020
11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. EDT


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 $595.

Independent School Major Gifts Masterclass: Schedule at a Glance


Tuesday, June 23


11 a.m. EDT

Session 1: Institutional Priorities, Case for Support, and Effective Portfolio Management

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, articulate your primary and secondary cases for support, and manage portfolios to ensure the attainment of individual and office goals.

12:30 p.m. EDT


1 p.m. EDT

Session 2: Preparing for, Securing, 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, June 24


11 a.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.

12:30 p.m. EDT


1 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, June 25


11 a.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.

12:30 p.m. EDT


1 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


Jim McKey, Practice Area Leader | 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.

Elizabeth Kolb Farr

Elizabeth Kolb Farr, 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 LaMar, Consulting Vice President
He has more than 20 years of experience within independent school advancement. Shelby has directed annual funds, managed advancement services, created communication plans, and led capital campaigns. Shelby is currently in his eleventh 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. He is an adjunct consultant with GG+A and offers his experience and insights to its Independent Schools Practice Area. Prior to LCDS, Shelby served as the Associate Director of Development at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School (Alexandria, VA). Outside of education, Shelby has also provided development counsel for healthcare, religious, and educational organizations. Shelby has presented locally, regionally and nationally. 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).

What People Said about the 2019 Masterclass

“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 | Columbus Academy

“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 | National Cathedral School

“Even as someone who was experienced in major gifts, the Masterclass offered me an opportunity to regather confidence in the skills I had been using in my work as well as learn new strategies that I could apply upon completion of the course. Having the opportunity to hear from peers and experts alike about how they position a case for support, or address concerns and questions, and even how they verbalize an ask, made it all the more relatable.”

- Amanda Young, Director of Capital Giving | Westtown School

Registration Information

Registration fee $595


  • 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 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.