What Happens When a Board Member Refuses a Give-or-Get Policy?

By Gerry Czarnecki

Fundraising calls for what often is described as the “give-or-get” policy. The majority of boards have such a policy in place, so what should a board do when a member essentially refuses to commit to it?

There’s no clear answer, as every board runs differently, but if the board has such a policy commitment, or wants to have such a commitment, then several things will emerge as required actions:

The board must declare fundraising a critical role of board membership and that most funders expect 100 percent participation by the board of directors. This 100 percent should be clearly understood and consistent with the net worth and income capacity of the individual. Frequently, when highly valued board members do not have the financial resources to make as large a contribution as others, they can’t contribute.

The board must decide that each board member has a give-or-get goal. This must be a board decision. It cannot be simply decided by the chair, president or even a committee of the board. It is all about buy-in from the board members.

The board must also decide that each board member is expected to personally give some amount of money. The board must pass a formal resolution, stating that all board members are expected to either give, or help in getting and/or funding for the organization, and that they will establish an aspirational goal to “give or get” a specific amount of money each year.

Each new board member must be fully informed that the board has committed to the give-or-get process, and that they will be expected to commit and comply, in order to be a viable board prospect.

Each board member should be required to sign a formal aspiration agreement for the goal and understand that personal giving is imperative.

Then, and only then, should the board be prepared to act in the face of a board member’s refusal to participate in the give-or-get program.

Obviously, informal or formal communications would need to state to an offender that he or she is in violation of board policy and that the only remedy is to contribute or facilitate a raise.

In the absence of compliance, to be fair to the rest of the directors, and to reinforce the critical nature of this part of the role, any director ultimately refusing to participate should either be asked to step down or should not be re-nominated at the next board member election.

In short, fundraising is an essential priority for virtually all nonprofits.The give-or-get goals are crucial. Any member not participating simply does not have the level of commitment to the organization that every board has a right to expect from its members. This is not harsh; it is practicing fairness.

Gerry Czarnecki is founder and chairman of the nonprofit National Leadership Institute (nationalleadershipinstitute.org), which helps boards of nonprofit organizations become strategic assets to the leadership team. His extensive background as a C-suite executive and CEO is coupled with current board leadership of corporate and nonprofit organizations. He is also chairman and CEO of the Deltennium Group. Contact him at 561.293.3726 or gmc@deltennium.com.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.