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Core Curriculum

A rigorous curriculum is offered through monthly sessions during the academic year focused on universal components of development work. The components of the curriculum is based on the assumption that basic knowledge of key development practices have already been mastered. 

Topics include: Leadership Principles and Practice; The Development Plan; Gift Planning; Internal Relationships: CEO, Board Chair and Members, the Finance Office, Communications/Marketing, Program colleagues, and Volunteers; The Donor Relationship; Budgeting and Finance; and Ethics.

Sample Course Descriptions 

On Leadership

Lori Zahn, President and Founder and President,

Perceptive Leaders and Dan Reed, CEO, SEED Leaders

These sessions will launch the ILD program with an in-depth exploration of the role of the fundraiser and personal and organizational leadership. Participants will use Emergenetics® and Emotional Intelligence as tools to help us explore this topic. The Emotional Intelligence self-assessment instrument will help us evaluate our current level of emotional intelligence while Emergenetics® will help reveal how our natured and nurtured selves show up in the workplace. As the Emergenetics® website best explains, “Emergenetics® is the merging of two ideas - our behavior emerging from our life experiences and our genetic traits.” Dan will introduce a vision for fundraising, the concept and dimensions of leadership, an honest discussion on resiliency, explore "leading from where you are" and managing one’s career. Participants will design a Personal Leadership Project to work on throughout the year.

Objectives and Outcomes

  • Greater self-awareness and exploration through the Emergenetics® and Emotional Intelligence tools.
  • Intrinsic value of fundraising rather than always defining importance through dollars raised.
  • Dimensions of effective leadership - "leading from where you are" and will weave in "where you want to go."
  • Participants will design a Personal Leadership Project to work on throughout the year.
  • Career management – “You, as the leader of your life”.
  • Donor and staff postures.
  • Resiliency

Finance for Nonprofits

Peter Konrad, Ed.D. Philanthropic Advisor, Konrad Consulting 

The session will focus on better understanding nonprofit financial statements in order to communicate this important facet with donors. The class will review numerous nonprofit financial statements in order to better understand the underlying accounting principles. Class will review sample statements connected with grant applications to analyze the projects likelihood of funding. Look for more details about this session to follow soon.


Objectives and Outcomes

  • Introduction to and discuss of key accounting terms.
  • Learn how to read and analyze financial statements by reviewing examples.
  • Overview of key nonprofit accounting best practices.

Managing Endowments, Qualifying Your Prospects (1-2:30pm)       

Rebecca Olchawa Barker, Director of Philanthropic Services, Community First Foundation

Endowments are long-term funds invested for the future needs of a nonprofit so the good work happening at the organization can keep going. Endowments provide a steady revenue source and allow donors to leave a lasting legacy. Rebecca will walk you through the readiness factors an organization should consider before establishing an endowment and how to identify, cultivate and solicit prospective donors. Lastly, we’ll dig into why it is important to establish a sustained planned giving program and a stewardship plan for these donors.

Objectives and Outcomes

  • Understand what an endowment is and what it isn’t
  • Learn about true and quasi endowments
  • Understand the readiness factors that can help determine if an organization is ready for an endowment
  • Learn about the benefits of endowment to your organization and the donors
  • Understand who your best prospects are for endowment giving
  • Learn strategies to build endowment

The Development Plan 

Development Plan & Motivating a Team
(featuring a capstone presentation at end of day)

Jennifer Darling, President and CEO, Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation and Christy Clay, Strategic Planning & Organizational Effectiveness Facilitator

What is a development plan? Learn how to develop, execute and interpret results for future planning. Additional topics may be covered that round out the session on looking at the big picture and how to accomplish the tasks necessary for reaching the big goals.

Objectives and Outcomes:

  • To learn the fundamentals of a strong development plan, including:
  • Strategic planning
  • Tools and traits of a strong development office
  • Institutional readiness
  • Organizational staff and key stakeholders
  • Determine how to build and execute a plan.
  • Carving out time to be strategic/prioritization
  • Metrics, staffing, bringing people back on track, what works, organizational staffing, step into scenarios for expansion and subtraction, culture of benefits and balance, flexibility

Major Gifts

Patrick Gaines, Executive Director, Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Matt Wasserman, Founder & CEO, MPW Strategies


This session will reveal both the art and the science of major gifts fundraising. Participants will learn about and discuss the concept of organizational lifecycles and why it matters for major gift work, the donor relationship lifecycle any organization has with its donors, and the roles of the CEO, the Board and staff in major gift fundraising. There will be ample discussion in both a large and small group format aimed at preparing participants for implementing and/or improving upon the major gifts work they are doing or want to do accomplish. Finally, the session leaders will share their experiences in creating and maintaining major gift programs in a variety of settings.


Objectives and Outcomes

  • What is a Culture of Philanthropy?
  • Philanthropy Overview and Impact
  • The Giving Experience/Why Donors Give (motivation)
  • Loyalty vs. Major Gifts
  • Donor-centered engagement and involvement in Fundraising
  • Donor engagement lifecycle

Navigating Key Development Relationships & Influencing Culture (9am-2pm)     

Scott Arthur, Vice Chancellor for Advancement, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus


Participants will learn how to navigate key relationships in the nonprofit hierarchy that will help them be more successful in raising funds for their organizations. How does culture show up on the frontline? Understanding the “why” of our work will inform “how” we approach it.

Objectives and Outcomes

  • Changing hearts and minds, both within your organization and with your donors/stakeholders.
  • Donor-centered cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship from an abundance, rather than scarcity, standpoint.
  • Organizational culture/culture of fundraising team.
  • Co-creating philanthropic visions to help benefactors realize their dreams and your organizations’ aspirations.
  • Understand yourself, your authority in your environment, how to use those things with key stakeholders to grow their confidence in you.
  • Shift from needs based to vision based fundraising, framing visionary narrative.
  • Cultural leadership, what we look for in staff, manage up, talent management.

Discovery Visits (2pm-4pm)

Cheryl Balchunas, former Senior Director of Development, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and current Executive Director of Advancement, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

Have you ever found yourself wondering “How do I most effectively get that first visit?”, “How do I prepare to meet a donor prospect for the first time?”, or “I got a visit, now what do I say and what do I listen for?”  Proper discovery and qualification work can save time and accelerate our best donor relationships. Learn effective tactics to qualify (or disqualify) donor prospects based on discovery calls and visits, and improve your ability to evaluate and strengthen your donor portfolio from the starting line.

Objectives and Outcomes 

  • Acquire techniques for effectively setting and preparing for discovery visits
  • Gain insights on what to look and listen for during discovery visits
  • Learn discovery visit key phrases and qualifying questions
  • Learn a five-step process to qualify/disqualify prospects
  • Hear outcomes of real-life Discovery Visits
  • Learn when to disqualify using the disqualification checklist

Gift Planning  

Gordon Smith, Assistant Vice President, Campaign, Planned and Principal Gifts, National Jewish Health 

Also featuring a panel discussion and guest speaker 

Planned Giving is a critical aspect of Development for most organizations yet for so many fundraisers it remains elusive and confusing. Our hope is to dispel much of the confusion and to help students gain a fundamental understanding of planned giving. In addition to explaining some of the basics, we hope to share what a typical planned gift donor looks like and how they differ from many other donors. We will touch on the important role of taxes in planned giving and review the different assets and vehicles that are typically used to create a planned gift.  We will discuss the process for cultivating, soliciting and closing planned gifts and will review and practice various scenarios in each of these areas.

Objectives and Outcomes

  • Understand the basic planned giving functions in development
  • Understand how to identify planned giving prospects
  • Become familiar with “blended gifts” and the importance in today’s giving environment
  • Learn about different gift assets and gift plans
  • Become familiar with the different processes for cultivating, soliciting and closing planned gifts
  • Become familiar with the “soft” skills necessary to be successful in gift planning

Ethics and Leadership (two-part program)

Ethics (Morning)

Morning | A Comprehensive Look at Ethics in Fundraising

Sarah Harrison, Vice President of Philanthropic Services, The Denver Foundation and Christiano Sosa, Executive Director, the Arc of Colorado

The ethics session introduces the definition and history of Ethics and explores applications of ethical decision-making to fund development and nonprofit management. Participants review case studies and learn from outside speakers on ethical dilemmas that crop up regularly for all of us in our daily work.

Objectives and Outcomes:

  • Definition and history of ethics.
  • Applications of ethical decision-making and nonprofit management, through case studies.
  • Insight into the funders perspective.
  • Review of the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards and Donor Bill of Rights.

Return to Leadership (Afternoon)
Dan Reed, Co-Founder and CEO, SEED Leaders


This session will provide opportunity for both reflections on the exploration of emotional intelligence assessment and personal leadership project progress introduced in the first session, and ways to carry the learning forward.

Objectives and Outcomes:

  • Identify how you will carry your learning forward.
  • Learn how you can continue to build on your Emotional Intelligence to help you become a stronger leader.
  • Share your Personal Leadership Project with your classmates.
  • Reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself and your leadership style through the lens of Emergenetics® and EQ profiles.
  • Career management.
  • Carrying resiliency forward.

In addition to these core components, guest speakers and panelists are added to select monthly classes throughout the year. 


Institute for Leaders in Development at University of Denver | University Hall 301 2197 S. University Blvd. Denver Colorado 80208 | ildcolorado@gmail.com 

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