It’s All About the ‘Give”

I’m frequently asked by executive directors and chairs with whom I work about board giving policies. Specifically, they’re always looking for reasons to dilute the board members’ responsibilities for giving.

“Oh, this one is reviewing our bylaws.” Or “this person is really well connected.”

I always admonish them to hold fast.

While I prefer “give and get” policies over “give or get,” I always stress that it is a leadership imperative that all board members personally give something (or through businesses they own). It demonstrates to others that the board is stepping up and has skin in the game.

There’s also the fundraising truism that posits that you can’t ask another to make a gift until you have made you’re own.

So I was delighted to see an article from Inside Philanthropy that addresses this issue. “Disappearing Donors: How Fundraising Issues Can Push People Off Boards” covers a number of key topics that relate to board recruitment and setting expectations.

The highlight, for me, was the reference to research from Marts & Lundy that demonstrates that setting expectations to “give” versus “give or get” is far more effective. The company’s 2015 study showed that nonprofits raised $18.1 million for “give only” compared to $14.7 million for “give and get.”

So executive directors, development directors, board leaders, take heed. Focus your efforts on the give, and hold fast to those convictions.

Glenn is a fundraising strategist who loves working with organizations that want to innovate and grow. Check out his website at, and to find out how he can help you, email him at You can follow him on Instagram, and Facebook. He’s also the author of the forthcoming House Party: How to Turn a Home Into a Powerful Fundraising Tool.

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