A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 12, 2009
“Give, get, or get off” ("Give, get, or get out")

Trustees of institutions of higher learning and members of the boards of directors of nonprofit corporations are often told to “give or get”—give money or get money. This has expanded into the “three g’s”—“give, get, or get off” (less frequently “give, get, or get out").

Frank Sparks. president of Wabash College, is said to have originated the phrase in the 1950s. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is said (in a book published in 2009) to follow the “give, get, or get out” approach, with a seat on the board costing $10 million.

The three G’s are sometimes mentioned with the three T’s ("time, talent, and treasure") and the three W’s ("wealth, wisdom, and work").


CDS Funds - Creative Fundraising
The Three G’s versus the Three T’s
“Which method do you subscribe to?”

By: Darrell G. Edwards
(...)
#1. The Three G’s (Give! Get! Or Get Off!) Approach
What this simply means is that all board members must contribute (Give) at the highest level they can afford and/or they must solicit (Get) their friends, acquaintances and peers to contribute. If unwilling or unable to accomplish one of these two tasks, then the only option left to them is to get off the board. No questions asked, you would be ostracized. “You are the weakest link.” This is hardcore fundraising!

Or

#2. The Three T’s (Time, Talent and Treasure) Approach
This “kinder and gentler” approach maximizes the use of the word “and,” while totally ignoring the word “or.” Board members are not only required to contribute their precious time to become fully involved with all aspects of the board’s fundraising, they are also required to contribute their considerable talents, when and where needed. This includes, but is not limited to, their own personal skills and expertise as well as those of the corporations they represent. In addition, they are required to make a personal donation (Treasure) and where appropriate a corporate one as well.

Wabash College - Giving Clubs
Frank H. Sparks Circle $10,000-$24,999
Frank Hugh Sparks was the eighth president of Wabash College who after a successful career in business early in his life found greater joy in teaching younger men. He came to Wabash to fulfill his dream of providing positive learning experiences for young men after returning to school himself to earn a PhD at the age of 40 solely to do so. Sparks introduced his ambitious strategy for building a “Greater Wabash” and the notion of its independence from government aid. Since then, Sparks has become one of the most recognized presidents of Wabash College.

Google Books
Academic Procession:
Reflections of a College President

By Henry Merritt Wriston
New York, NY: Columbia University Press
1959
Pg. 44:
My response was “work, wealth, and wisdom, preferably all three, but at least two of the three.” That was candid enough, but rather less brutal than another terse summary attributed to a Midwest official: “give, get, or get out.”

Google Books
Liberal Education
By Association of American Colleges
v. 47 - 1961
Pg. 354:
Maybe here is the basis for Frank Sparks’ famous admonition to trustees: “Give, get, or get off.”

Google Books
Financing Higher Education
By Merritt Madison Chambers
Washington, DC: Center for Applied Research in Education
1963
Pg. 26: 
An anonymous quotation is also circulated to the effect that a college trustee should “give, get, or get out"— which puts the idea in very blunt terms.

Google Books
Rights and Responsibilities:
A study in academic ethics

By Daniel Bell, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Overview Committee on Governance of Universities, Danforth Foundation (Saint Louis, Mo.)
Boston, MA: House of the Academy
1968
Pg. 85:
I just want to comment on another function of a board of trustees: that being the function in which one member puts pressure on another to get more money into the hopper. The saying goes “give, get, or get off.”

Google Books
Managing a Nonprofit Organization
By Thomas Wolf
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
1990
Pg. 198:
“We talk around here about the three ‘Gs’ for trustees — Give, Get, or Get off.”

15 March 1991, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “National Gallery of Art Honors Franklin Murphy” by Geraldine Baum, Pg. A3:
[Franklin D. Murphy] had remarked earlier in the day that when Paul Mellon invited him to be a trustee in 1964, it was a first for the West: “Never before had a person west of Pittsburgh served on the board of a major cultural institution in the East,” said Murphy. “It was a real breakthrough for California.”

“Dr. Murphy likes to quote the aphorism, `Give, get or get out,’ “ said [J. Carter Brown], “but the truth is he has not only given of himself-like the Matisse drawing he gave for this birthday exhibit-but he has been wonderful about getting us in touch with donors of a particular vantage, not just from California but also at Hallmark (Cards Inc.) in his native Kansas City.”

New York (NY) Times
What Matters in the Board Game Is Skill, Money and Glamour
By GRACE GLUECK
Published: Tuesday, December 9, 1997
(...)
To be sure, being on a board is not all fun and galas. Besides deliberating on committees of acquisition, finance and development, trustees must fulfill other responsibilities, like being bankers to their institutions. ‘’You either cough up yourself or raise the money from others,’’ a board member put it. ‘’And, if possible, you do both.’’

Where the slogan was once ‘’wealth, wisdom or work,’’ the new imperative is ‘’give, get or get out.’’ One hard-working trustee of the New York Public Library was found not to be giving according to her husband’s means. When pressed, he quickly wrote a substantial check. In the case of museums, however, a desirable art collection may suffice. More than one trustee sits on the Metropolitan Museum board solely because of his or her art holdings.

Google Books
How to Make Big Money in Your Own Small Business
By Jeffrey J. Fox
New York, NY: Hyperion
2004
Pg. 116:
The not-so-secret rule for what is expected from board members is: “Give, get, or get off.” That is, “Give money; get money; or get your butt off the board.” You will be much better off, and just as appreciated, if you give money and do not join the board.

Google Books
How to Get Anyone to Do Anything
By R. Philip Hanes with Penelope Niven
Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press
2006
Pg. 29:
National boards choose their members based on power, prestige, and/or resources. To bring the benefits of those attributes home, you haave to be willing to work on their committees and do a better-than-average job. Many board members assume they were chosen for their wisdom rather than their ability to give or get, and lack the wisdom to get out. Thus the motto of a good board: Give, get, or get out.

OCLC WorldCat record
Give, Get or Get Off! ; challenges of cultural networking today ; areport on the EFA/ISPA Conference “Cultural Networks at Work”, Brussels, 8 June 2007
Author: Hugo de De Greef; Kathrin Deventer; European Festivals Association (Gent).
Publisher: [Gent] : European Festivals Association, cop. 2006.
Series: EFA books ..., 2
Edition/Format: Book : English

Fundlanthropy
Give, Get or Get Off?
Posted by Mike at 8/16/2008 2:13 PM
In my work with boards this question always seems to come up around board giving:
Should we have a Give or Get policy?

A Give or Get policy (also affectionately known as the Give, Get or Get Off policy) mandates that each board member is personally responsible for raising a certain amount of money. Let’s say the give or get policy is $2,000. In this case each board member must either give or get $2,000 on behalf of the organization. So, if you have 15 board members, you’ve got $30,000 coming in annually. Not too shabby. So, should organizations have get policies?

My answer is an unequivocal NO!

Google Books
Rogues’ Gallery:
The secret history of the moguls and the money that made the Metropolitan Museum

By Michael Gross
New York, NY: Broadway Books
2009
Pg. 15:
“Give, get. or get out” is the rule. Committee membership can cost even more, particularly if one lands a coveted seat on the acquisitions committee, where you’re expected to cough up cash to buy treasures.

Providence (RI) Journal
‘Rogues’ Gallery,’ describes what really goes on at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
01:00 AM EDT on Sunday, July 12, 2009
By Richard J. Ring
Special to The Journal
The unofficial motto of the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is “give, get, or get out.” A seat on it will run you at least $10 million.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Sunday, July 12, 2009 • Permalink