Are You a Give-Or-Get Organization?

Are You a Give-Or-Get Organization?


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


Hi! Yeah (Mark, Sue, James, Samantha) said you might be looking for a (treasurer, attorney, Millennial, Timbuktu resident) for your Board. I’m your man!

Yeah (he’s, she’s) a great person. And s/he says you are a great organization, too.

Of course I’ve heard of you. You’re like a land trust or something. That’s like a Nature thing, right? I love nature.

And those easement things are brilliant. What a great idea! You guys are so impressive!

No, I’m not a member. Never really thought about it. In fact, I really just learned about all the great work you do for the first time last week, from (Mark, Sue, James, Samantha). You guys are so impressive!

I love Nature.

Yes – I could come to a Board meeting next week. No problem.

Monthly? – that shouldn’t be a problem either – well, of course there might be some conflicts. You know – now and then.

I get it. The world is run by the people who show up, am I right?

I completely understand. Board members need to give. Are you one of those give-or-get organizations?

No? Good!

I mean I know Board members have to give and all. But I’m not much of a fundraiser. Is there a minimum?

No minimum? Wonderful.

Well, sure. I could give $50. No, I completely understand. Every Board member needs to give. I totally get that.

100%. Right.

You’re absolutely right. It’s really important. But still. I’m glad there’s no minimum. After all, we’re also giving our time. I’m a (CPA treasurer, attorney, Millennial, Timbuktu resident) – did I mention that?

Really? Foundations are asking how much Board members give? Wow, I did not know that.

Right. 100%. Count me in. I love Nature.

Of course. I would expect to serve on the (Finance, Legal, Millennial, Timbuktu resident) committee.

Chair it? Honestly – I didn’t see that coming. But sure, I’d be happy to.

No, not yet, but send the binder to me and I will. I’ll be ready for the meeting next week. Go easements!

And send in my check. Right. I’ll do it right away.

Seriously – I am looking forward to this. (Mark, Sue, James, Samantha) is a great person.

No, thank YOU!

I love Nature!



OK – so hopefully there’s some humor in there, and hopefully all those wonderful Board members who weren’t donors before they joined the Board will forgive my pointed jabs.

But the points are still worth driving home:

  • Your current membership list is a great place to find Board members. Look especially at those people who have had Board experience on other nonprofit Boards and who have donated to your land trust consistently for several years. They are more likely than others to know what an easement is.
  • Board members should NOT be asked to give because they are on the Board. And non-board members should NOT be asked to give so that they can be on the Board.
  • In both cases, they should be asked to give because they believe in the mission and want to support the work.
  • Because we ALSO want Board members based on the same criteria – that they believe in the mission and want to support the work – it makes sense to recruit Board members first from the pool of donors.
  • The first step in recruiting someone therefore might be to ask whether they are interested enough in the organization to make a gift in support of it. If they are not even $35 or $50 interested before Board service is on the table, it tells you something!
  • If you always start the recruitment process by sifting through the organizational donors, you shouldn’t ever need to worry about 100% Board giving.


BTW – just to answer directly one question I get asked often: I DO think that almost every land trust organization should have a minimum expectation for Board giving of $250, and I do not believe asking for $1,000 from every Board member is unfair.

In both cases, it will help if multiple payments are brought into play right away. $20/month is $240/year. $20/week is $1,000. There are very few land trust Board members in the country who are financially challenged to this degree.

I am NOT saying there are none – indeed I have met several over the years. For that reason alone, I do not generally subscribe to the idea that a threshold be established in policy.

Only in culture.


Cheers, and Have a great week.




Photo by Luca Bravo courtesy of        

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