Nonprofit Give/Gets Defined

I work with quite a few new nonprofits from ministries to education orgs to military orgs. A common theme when I breach the board members’ individual performance expectations is the concept of a give/get. Wanna see a founder/chairperson pucker up? Say “give/get” and then take it a step further and explain exactly what it is.


The response always goes something like this, “Yeah, we don’t want to ask our board members to commit to financially supporting for fear of running them off. We are just getting up and running”. Well I am here to tell you that you won’t have an organization for those important board members to be on if there is no money to keep the mission active and making an impact. Typically, about two months later they find out that their board members do nothing and if they do anything it’s usually cause trouble.


Defined. A give | get is a board set established financial amount that each board member commits to and is required to either personally contribute or influence their network to donate to the organization annually. There may be opportunities for individual board members to host fundraising events or lead fundraising campaigns if the org has capital available or the board members can even donate their professional time saving the org money. This may count toward a board member’s give/get but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll just include the basic concept when I am speaking about give/gets in this post.


Legitimacy. Board members’ contributions communicate an organization’s legitimacy and that the organization’s board believes in the mission. Larger donors may even ask if there is a give/get and to know individual board member contributions. This is an acceptable request. If the organization’s own board members don’t financially invest in the organization, why should others?


Budgeting. Board giving should make up a sizable portion of the organization’s annual revenue. Board give/get commitments help with annual budget forecasting reducing the constant operational state of reacting and living hand to mouth so to speak. Operating in a perpetual reactionary state will (not might) cause burnout of staff members, volunteers and even board members.


Board Performance. The mandatory minimum contribution is the price of holding a board seat; furthermore, this is one of the metrics the board members should be measured by in their annual performance review. Yes- performance review. I said it. These people need to work and be held accountable as being good stewards of the money that is expended AND they must be held accountable for generating revenue for the organization. You get to sit on the board. It’s a prestigious position. Now what does the organization receive in return?

Remember- the board is financially responsible for the organization’s financial health not merely a “pretty” face on an organization’s website and padding for their resumes.

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So you say you are ready to address the lack of board member giving on your board of directors. You understand what a give/get is now and you are ready to establish the minimum and hold these pompous