Discover the Unique Giver You Were Designed to Be

unique giver

Tyler Morning Telegraph, Give Well Column By Dawn Franks September 23, 2018

How do you give? Is it in the moment, or after much reflection or research? Do you respond to a request from a friend just because it’s a friend? Do you take a chance on winning the trip while at the same time helping a nonprofit? Or are you all about the party fundraiser?

I have a friend who loves party fundraisers. Her husband finds a buddy to talk with while she dances from one group to another because she loves people and doesn’t want to miss a single friend. And for her, it’s all the more enjoyable because she can have so much fun while supporting an important cause.

A different donor unexpectedly inherited a large sum of money from a close friend. She wanted to quietly donate it all with no fanfare, no recognition and especially without friends and family knowing about the inheritance. She wanted to be anonymous.

I worked for several years with a client who cared deeply about her faith. Her giving followed her belief that the most good would come from supporting organizations closely connected to that same faith.

There is no best way to give. Each person’s giving style was unique. Their giving patterns can be traced to deep within their personalities. They are like fingerprints, like the ridges on your fingers.

Your fingerprints are chanced impressions — detailed, difficult to alter and almost unique to you. They are very much like your personal giving pattern.

After spending countless hours with donors — individuals, couples, families, employees of small businesses along with their owners, and family foundation boards — I realized each individual or group had a unique giving pattern. Their patterns result in a giving style, in decisions repeated over time.

At a presentation for the Nonprofit Leadership Lecture Series, Dr. Michael Tidwell, president of the University of Texas at Tyler, said that altruistic behavior stays the same through our lifetimes, “from age 6 to 96.”

I call that altruistic behavior giving fingerprints. Because our giving behavior stays so similar throughout our lifetime, I think of it as a giving brand. The brand grows with each giving decision we make. Friends and family, those closest to us, can often describe our giving style.

Do you know your giving brand? I wrote a short free e-book, “Giving Fingerprints,” to help everyone identify their brand.

It’s a tool that will help financial advisers in their work with clients who have a significant interest in giving and philanthropy. It’s a great addition to any adviser’s toolbox, opening important conversations that can greatly enhance the advising experience.

“Giving Fingerprints” includes an exercise that is sure to help you find more joy in your giving. It will increase your confidence as you make giving decisions year after year.

Couples and families that give together can use it to identify shared giving patterns and still value each person’s unique style and interests.

It’s a terrific way for a small business that gives back to their community to include their employees in giving decisions. A business can identify its giving brand and find a unique way to give back.

Family foundations can use the exercise in “Giving Fingerprints” to understand better and bridge the differences between generations gathered around the board table.

The exercise included in “Giving Fingerprints” is easy to do. You identify the style that best fits and learn if your current giving fits your style. You will better understand the brand you have created.

You can start today to grow your brand or change it. If you are an anonymous donor, you will recognize the important role it plays in your giving style.

A fingerprint expert will tell you they come in loops, whorls and arches. Sometimes they are tented, plain, central or show pocket loops. In spite of falling into those categories, they are still so unique that mysteries are solved every day.

That’s how individual your giving fingerprints are to you. They are key to giving well, to the joy of giving.

Download your free copy of “Giving Fingerprints” at

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