Program Administration and Management

Stuck in the Middle with You:  Donor, Planner, Business Officer

Christopher Kelly and Melanie Norton

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.


Artful negotiation doesn’t apply only to the closing of a great gift. Sometimes negotiating a complex, blended or even standard gift with internal partners can be an equal challenge. This highly-interactive session explores the important aspects of the gift process from the lens of the person making the gift, the person closing the gift, and the partner on the inside tasked with counting the gift. How can effective communication and greater transparency promote a deeper understanding of the perspective each partner brings? What are the special considerations necessary to make certain there are no surprises along the way for the donor or the organization/institution? How do elements such as changes in the tax code and gift counting policies impact the planning and gift process? And how can the receipting, counting and recognition processes create a gift that feels like a remarkable win for all parties involved? Attendees will leave this session with a deeper understanding of the key concerns important to each partner, and helpful tips to “bridge the GAAP” between the donor and the business office. Learn how a better understanding and artful negotiation can turn adversaries into advocates, better supporting your organizational/institutional goals and creating a more rewarding work environment.

Learning Objectives

  1. Gain a deeper understanding the potential gift, receipting and recognition issues from the perspective of all three partners, from the person making the gift to the person counting it on the nonprofit’s side.
  2. Develop a better understanding of “the language of giving” from the partner constituencies, including who should be at the table for various aspects of the gift discussions and considerations, and how to break the language barriers through good processes.
  3. Acquire helpful tips for negotiating and securing a gift that all parties can celebrate as a win for your institution/organization.


CFRE: Approved for 1.5 points

CFP: Approved for 1.5 points 

CAP: Approved for 1.5 hours CE Credit

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Christopher Kelly


Christopher L. Kelly, is the Director of Development for Planned Parenthood of Michigan. He brings more than 28 years of experience in trust, estate and philanthropic planning from his previous positions, most recently the Vice President and Planned Giving Product Specialist with PNC Institutional Asset Management. Prior to joining PNC, Chris served with the Comerica Charitable Services Group as Vice President and Senior Philanthropic Advisor, Chair of the Grant Committee and President of the Comerica Charitable Trust and Comerica Legacy Foundation, with a combined value of $120 million+. He served in a similar role with Merrill Lynch Trust Company Center for Philanthropy as Senior Philanthropic Consultant and Manager of the Merrill Lynch Community Foundation Alliance, a program he grew to over 225 community foundations across the United States and approximately $1.3 billion+ of assets. He is a frequent guest speaker at conferences, educational programs and donor seminars across the country. He is a member of the Planned Giving Roundtable of Southeast Michigan, the Past President of the Council Board, Leave-A-Legacy Chair and is now Chair of the mentoring program. He served on the bational board of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners and was the Chair of the 2013 National Conference in Minneapolis. Chris was a professional opera singer, debuting with the Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, and has performed with various opera companies and orchestras throughout the United States and in Europe.

Melanie Norton


Melanie J. Norton is the founder and lead consultant for Norton Philanthropic Counsel (NPC), a full-service philanthropic consulting firm in Indianapolis, Indiana, dedicated to highly-customized and relationship-focused strategies that blend the art and science of philanthropy to promote client success. Prior to the launch of NPC, Melanie was most recently the Vice President for Development and Alumni Engagement at DePauw University, where she led a team of 40 full-time professionals to a successful $320 million comprehensive campaign nearly two years in advance of the targeted campaign end. Melanie was previously a consultant with Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates, consulting on all phases of philanthropic work, and also spent eleven years in leadership roles in gift planning and major gifts for DePauw and Franklin College. Melanie’s first career was at Fifth Third Bank where she served as an AVP in the Retail and Trust Investment Advisors divisions for seven years. Melanie is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and holds an M.B.A. from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a B.A. in business from Franklin College. She was the 2016 national chairman of the board for the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners and is also a past president and former board member for the Planned Giving Group of Indiana, as well as the Rotary Club of Indianapolis Sunrise. Melanie also served on the board of the Independent College Advancement Associates as well as several other volunteer and social service organizations.