I hate it so much.
I hate the name.
I hate the concept behind it.
But before we get to that, let’s talk a bit about what give/get is.
Nonprofits often have a minimum gift requirement for their board members. This gift not only shows a board member’s commitment to the organization but also creates an even playing field for all board members. This equality is important because board members are leaders in the organization and the community, those leaders should each have a baseline for participation.
Some nonprofits offer their board members a different way to fulfill their financial responsibility. This practice is called give/get.
Give/Get, loosely defined, refers to the set amount of money that each nonprofit board member is required to either donate themselves (give) or solicit other people to donate instead (get).
There are oh so many problems with give/get system, where do I begin...
I recently started working with a nonprofit that was debating whether board and committee members who get auction items donated should count those items toward their give/get.
My question is: If this is adopted as an accepted practice, where does it end? Do they start allowing volunteer hours in lieu of the expected donation? What about asking for auction items? Does that count? There’s no end to this conversation.
In my opinion, allowing some board members to give and others to get, creates an atmosphere of inequality that is difficult to navigate. Tracking “gets” can be hard and there must be firm parameters around what a “get” is defined as within your organization.
I’m assuming that give/get was created to add diversity to a board and provide equal opportunity for people who have different financial situations to get involved. Unfortunately, most people take advantage of the “get” part of this equation and this can create conflict and disdain among board members.
If you want to add people to your board or committee who don’t have the capacity to give at the minimum gift level, consider having a conversation with them prior to them joining the board about making a donation that is meaningful and substantial for them.
A board has fiduciary responsibility for your organization. If your nonprofit goes belly up, your board has a duty to resuscitate your organization. Most nonprofits cannot afford to have board members without the capacity to give.
Simply, it’s fiscally irresponsible.
That being said, board members can, and should, be valued for more than just their capacity to give and I see no reason to refuse board membership to a person solely based on their capacity to give financially.
I understand why many organizations choose to institute a give/get policy, however I think the goals of give/get are more easily accomplished through smart board recruitment tactics and honest conversations.