Exponent Philanthropy member and foundation consultant Dawn Franks, founder/CEO of Your Philanthropy, recently published the e-book Giving Fingerprints, designed to help funders recognize where their giving is taking them and what it tells others about them. This post is adapted from the e-book, available now for complimentary download.
You have a unique giving brand. Whether single, married, or part of a family—your giving brand affects many other decisions in your life. It can impact your career, help position your business, strengthen family relationships, start new friendships, or deepen your understanding of your community. It can help you become a subject expert in specific areas you care deeply about and support with your resources.
Your giving style should be a subtle yet clear indicator that you touched an organization in a way that only you could. Like prints on a glass, you leave your “fingerprints” on an organization or cause as a sign that you care… and you were there.
I like to call this giving style your “Giving Fingerprints.” It’s who you are at your core. You want to give in specific ways to specific organizations or causes. You may want others to know what you are interested in and where you choose to give. Or you may choose to be anonymous, where the evidence of your giving may not be as easily recognized. Of course, over the years, as in any other part of life, you may have adapted your giving style for various reasons.
Three Steps to Identify Your Giving Fingerprints
Identify your giving values. Many resources provide lists of words to help you sort out your giving style. Once you have downloaded the Giving Fingerprints e-book, you can download the complementary worksheet with a list of giving words and questions to help guide you through your journey to discovering your personal giving brand. You can also find short and long lists of value words on the internet and in books. I have used Motivational Values Cards, a tool created by 21/64, with many clients. The words are a perfect beginning place for thinking specifically about your giving decisions and process.
Over the years, I have learned no list is perfect. They have too many or not enough words. They are never entirely the perfect list of words. You can make up your own word list and definitions, but always remember to work through the list with giving in mind.
Examine past donations. Make a list of donations you’ve made over the course of the last year or so.
Look at how you give. Writing a check. Purchasing event tickets. Everyone gives in ways they are most comfortable. Some only give one way whereas others choose to give in several different ways. There is no right or wrong way. Each is a reflection of your Giving Fingerprints.
Your Giving Fingerprints Revealed
Look back at your sorted list of giving words. The list reveals giving values that describe who you are. Words at the top of the list should be most like you, whereas those at the bottom less like you.
Compare your top five giving words to the list of organizations and causes you’ve given to over the last year or so and answer an important question: Are you leaving your Giving Fingerprints in the way that most describes who you are now and want to be going forward?
If the answer is no, then there is room for work, room to change what and how you give in a way that is genuinely you.
Each time you face a giving decision, filter it through your list of top giving words. It’s a way to be intentional about your giving. Giving with clear intention yields a clear giving brand.