Jim Lord

A special invitation to CEOs, CDOs, and other staff leaders who want to take their organization or cause to a new level of success.

Before anything else, I want to thank you for who you are and the work you do.

You’ve devoted your life to making the world a better place. You’re creating the kind of world I want to live in, the world I want to see my children inherit.

And I know it isn’t easy.

The pressures are intense. You’re juggling the demands of board members, donors, outside stakeholders, staff, and those you serve. You have budgets to meet, people to manage, goals to achieve, expectations to satisfy.

There’s a lot of complexity, a lot of noise around you. It can get to be a bit much.

But if your vision is expansive — and your desire to serve is compelling — you always want to accomplish more. Much more than may seem possible right now.

The question is: How?

In the face of all of your day-to-day pressures, how do you lead your organization so everyone around you can see exciting new possibilities — and have the confidence and courage to turn big ideas into reality?

And how do you lead your development program to attract the unprecedented philanthropic support that will expand what is possible?

These are the big questions, the questions that can keep you up at night, the questions that you simply have to answer if you’re going to reach for more.

Often people think they need a consultant to come in and figure this out for them — to assess what’s wrong in the organization, then do some “team-building” or “training” to fix things up and straighten people out. (As you may have experienced, these kinds of change efforts — especially “culture change” — often backfire, triggering resistance and resentment instead of inspiring bold action. If you’re curious about why that happens, send me a note.)

There’s a better way: A whole-system approach that draws from the most up-to-date knowledge of human growth and organization development, and can be implemented in ways that are more subtle, yet far more effective. A proven, strength-based methodology that brings out the best in people and inspires their greatest contributions.

For you, that’s what The Philanthropic Quest is about.

In university advancement, intense pressure to “meet the metrics” can lead to unhealthy outcomes. Too many fret over mechanics but ignore deeper meanings and natural human connections. Jim’s approach lets leaders shape organizational culture with greater wisdom and humanity, for sustainable performance.

Rod Kirsch

Senior Vice President Emeritus for Development and Alumni Relations, Pennsylvania State University;
Consulting Vice President, Grenzebach Glier

An experience unlike any other

After every program, participants tell me “this is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.” (Sometimes they even say “I’m not sure how to put this into words.”)

And indeed, The Philanthropic Quest is a unique offering in the “nonprofit” world.

For most folks who’ve been around for a while, a conference is a conference. A workshop is a workshop. And it gets to be kind of cookie-cutter. You start to say “I’ve heard this before, I’ve been through these before.”

This is different.

We’re not going to lecture you with a bunch of PowerPoint slides.

We’re not going to parrot the conventional wisdom — you’ve had enough of that.

Instead of being a passive recipient of instruction, you'll roll up your sleeves and be an active player. You’ll be fully engaged and co-creating the outcome that you want from what you’re getting in the workshop room.

What does that look like?

We set the stage by creating a strength-based atmosphere of curiosity, inquiry, and reflection — a brand-new way of looking at things for everyone. (And you'll find out how to create that kind of space around you when you return home.)

Doesn’t that sound like a refreshing place to start instead of with the enormity and implications of the greatest problem we’re trying to solve?

In structured conversations, using questions you’ve never heard before, you'll learn by reflecting on your own experiences. This is something people rarely take time to do in any depth, but it yields learning that lasts because it's grounded in your real life.

As we learn from each other, hope and promise grows, along with the conviction we can get the job done.

Along the way, we'll introduce some carefully curated insights — from social psychology, organization development, and other disciplines — you can apply to interpret and build on your experiences right there in the workshop room. (Reflection plus intellectual rigor is a powerful combination.)

All so you can be even more influential, more effective in advancing the mission of your organization or cause.

So what will you have when you leave?

I wish I could give you a simple 1-2-3 answer. But the honest answer is: “It depends.”

It depends on what you’re doing and where you’re at ... what you have going for you (more than you might think, as you’ll discover when we’re together) … and what you want to accomplish in the future (more is possible than you might imagine right now).

Here are a few of the ways people like you have used this program.

  • Lay the groundwork for success in a campaign or major program.

You’re starting to think about a campaign or major program and have high hopes for it. But you’re wondering if will succeed — or if you’re aiming too low and losing out on potential. Could you be doing something differently to set the stage for more certain success?

  • Revitalize a campaign or major program you already have underway.

Sometimes an ambitious initiative stalls mid-way, or could simply benefit from a step back and a fresh look. You might be concerned you're missing some great opportunities (or maybe even coming up short).

Are you focused on your highest-payoff strategies — or getting lost in the weeds? With so much at stake, are you making smart decisions in the heat of the moment?

  • Strengthen the culture of your organization, so you can achieve much more.

You want to get your organization out of the scarcity mindset and into a “big thinking and big results” mode. How in the world will you do that? (This is not taught in “fundraising training,” yet nothing is more essential to success in raising money.)

  • Deepen the relationships that are crucial to your success.

Take this unusual opportunity to create a new kind of collaborative partnership with a few key people — to raise their sights, inspire them to see that more is possible, and move forward together as true partners.

You might also want them to understand development better, get excited about engaging fully in relationships with philanthropic supporters, or become even more inspiring advocates for the cause you share.

  • Step back from the day-to-day and make sure you’re focused on the right priorities.

How often do you get the space to ask yourself the big questions: What could be possible? How can you inspire others to raise their sights? What’s truly important — and what is just noise that you can brush away? (You know you have too much on your plate right now.) And what are the first steps you’ll take to get to a new level of success, more easily and quickly?

More than a retreat, a time for action

You’ll get away from the daily work pressures and expectations, and be in a quiet, safe, calm place for a few days. A true retreat where you’ll have the luxury to stop and think.

But it’s much more than just a retreat.

I’m devoted to making sure you get results and turn your big ideas into inspired, sustained action.

So you’ll have a chance, while we’re together, to get a jump start on whatever it is you’ve cooked up — all the way to the detail of who you’re going to see, what you’re going to say to begin the conversation. And we’ll be in touch after the program to make sure you stay on track.

Could more be possible for you and your institution or cause?

If you have a sense the answer might be “yes,” then we encourage you to send in your application today.

Even if you’re thinking of bringing another person or a small team with you, the first step is for you to apply — so don’t put it off while you think about the people you might invite.

Besides, you may find the application itself gives you new clarity and energy, right away. (People often tell us they’re surprised by what they discover, simply in the process of answering the application questions.)

Maybe devote a few moments to yourself right now and take a look?

~ Jim Lord

The workshop I attended with Jim came at an inflection point in my life. I needed to decide whether I was going to become a "leader" or a "foundation administrator" for our community. It helped me become more comfortable with the idea that leaders don't have to have all the answers (which I didn't) but can be the people who ask the right questions (which I learned to do). In the intervening years, we've grown the foundation tremendously, both in size and in service to the community.

Kevin Murphy

President, Berks County Community Foundation, Reading, Pennsylvania, USA; former Chair, Council on Foundations


  • Exclusively by application: To ensure the program will serve your interests, a brief application is required. People drawn to this program tend to have some humility about them, so please don't let any self-doubts keep you from applying. See more about the application process. 
  • Dates and locations: Specifics are announced privately to those who have completed the application. (After you've applied, you may even be able to influence dates to fit your calendar— we pull out all the stops for you.) Locations are typically near major U.S. airports.
  • Program schedule: The program spans three days, beginning in the morning on the first day and concluding around noon on the third day. We ask you to clear your calendar for that time span — to give yourself a true retreat. That way you get the most from the experience, hit the ground running when you return home, and see lasting results. 
  • Small group: Enrollment is strictly limited and we hand-select each group to make sure there’s an ideal mix of people in the room, for maximum benefit to everyone. 
  • Personal attention: You will also have access to four private one-on-one phone sessions — one before the program and then at one month, three months, and nine months after the program — to ensure that you stay on track to your highest aspirations, including any plan you may have begun during the program.
  • Tuition: $2750 per person. Most leaders who attend, especially with teams, draw from budgets other than “professional development” — because this program is well-suited to advance a campaign or other initiative by building focus, confidence, and internal capacity, while strengthening key relationships. (During the application process, we will work with you to make sure you will see a multifold return on the investment.)

Jim Lord’s visionary thinking begins with the very first visit, making it possible for me to raise millions of dollars. This is a thoughtful, transformational experience. I'll always be grateful to the board chair who first recommended this program to me.

Judi Cantor

Director of Planned Giving, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health

Jim magnifies one’s power to dream and dream big. My first workshop with him gave me courage to take the plunge and start my own non-profit organization, Muskaan (which means “smile” in English) — and energy to translate it into reality. I am grateful to Jim for allowing me to be part of this work because it has strengthened my courage to create the kind of world I want. 


Founder of Muskaan, Lucknow, India

My first Quest workshop with Jim Lord at Cambridge University was a turning point. After it, everything was changed. We grew our first private university in Germany, which set the example for more than 100 others. And rescued another university 14 days before it would have gone into bankruptcy. (It’s now flourishing.)

Michael Bleks

For over 20 years responsible for fundraising and strategic planning at the first private university in Germany

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this only for people directly involved in “raising money”?

Is this for beginners or those with more experience?

What are the program dates and locations?

Why is an application required?

Can you tell me more about who's selected?

How do I apply?

Who leads the program?

What if I register and cannot attend?

I’ve attended one of your programs before, why would I do it again?

I came back home from the workshop with a renewed energy and confidence. With that I was able to initiate a network of people who believe in democratic values, have commitment to generate a new future and also positively influence political leaders to take bold actions. I have been engaged in this journey for last 15 years and I am fully convinced and confident that the learning I received at the workshop is what we need for a greater social transformation.

Sahadev Mahat

Community Leader, Kathmandu, Nepal

Talk with us

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Phone: usa  +1 (206) 347-9546

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