Are you a Giver? Connecticut Public Radio recently completed a two-year project on ‘Giving’, and interviewed me on the topic of Giving. While I am sure many (most) of the people they interviewed applied to participate because they were givers, I’m more sure the ones who did not respond to be interviewed were also givers…but in a different way. Not everyone is the same kind of giver. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
One thing is for certain though – if you have donors then you have givers. These givers are people who have a desire to impact another’s life; offer themselves and their possessions to others. There are non-givers in the world, people who care nothing about other’s needs, but people in this latter category usually fall under the heading Narcissists and Sociopaths. For the most part, the majority of people are givers; it’s an innate part of our DNA. From infancy, we have empathy for others that causes us to act to help.
But givers are not at all alike. In fact, it is my opinion that there are two distinct types of givers.
SERVERS AND REWARDERS:
My husband and I are celebrating thirty years of marriage this year. This is remarkable because 1) Today, the majority of marriages don’t last that long, and 2) it’s a miracle that despite our vast differences, we are still together 30 years later. Ketchup on eggs/no ketchup on eggs; music as an alarm clock/silence is golden; Volunteers for everything/volunteers for nothing; in all ways he and I are as different as the allegory of night and day.
And when it comes to giving we remain distinctly at odds: fundamentally, I am a Server and he is a Rewarder.
As a server, I tend to see others’ needs as they appear to me and then act to assist in some way. I seek to put others first, looking for ways to be a blessing upon someone who has done virtually nothing to ask or ‘earn’ it in any way. If a person is struggling with full hands and is trying to enter the subway car, I’ll reach out to help. If I see someone being uncomfortable with silence or with a comment I jump in to comfort them (usually inserting foot into the mouth along the way, but hey.) In most situations where I am moved to empathy by a person’s situation, I am also moved to act.
That’s not to say at all that my husband is not empathetic, kind, or not a giver. He is very much so and often is brought to the brink of tears by others’ stories of struggle or injustice. But not action. His pragmatic nature causes him to be more of a rewarder than a server.
For him, giving is triggered by people’s actions towards him or towards themselves. In this way giving is a reward, a reward for action. Recently we had a young visitor stay with us. My husband was his cordial self. But not very giving. The young man had a 16-foot truck full of stuff. Only after he asked my husband to help did hubby jump into full-blown action, clearing places in the garage and hauling boxes. I on the other hand was already making plans for assisting when I heard the news of the truck arriving.
During a recent visit to NYC, we passed by one after another of types of people needing assistance; some homeless, some were able-bodied individual’s just experiencing life’s nuanced challenges. By day’s end, I was an exhausted drained mess, having depleted my reserves and brainpower in trying to ensure I helped each and every person in some small way. Hubby was surprised that the number of people I counted needing help even existed. He did hold the door for a gentleman who asked nicely. And he was grateful to do so. Raising our kids, Hubby was so very generous when a child overcame a struggle or performed an action that made hubby feel proud, inspired, or just doggone emotional about his kid. But he allowed the struggle to occur, whereas I had blisters from gripping the broom I used to sweep the path of struggle for each one of my three children.
Rewarders often appreciate the self-reliance seen in an individual in order for gratitude to kick in, in order for the reward of giving to have a lasting impact. Often rewarders want the individual in need to acknowledge their need for a deeper meaning, building character and forming a bond between helper and the one being helped. Additionally, some rewarders don’t always see the obvious and might not be inclined to anticipate the needs that others might have, but that does not make them any less of a giver. Rewarders give based on need AND actions, whereas servers give based on needs alone. Servers are driven innately by their own desire to serve and feel good about serving. Rewarders are driven by the call to action from the one needing help.
Your DONORS are Servers and Rewarders as well. This is why it is so very important to have a continual stream of consciousness flowing by them, of not only your needs but ALSO your call to help. I recently facilitated a strategic planning session where the ED implied that more publicity alone would generate more funds – she didn’t need to make an ask of anyone. Her rationale was that when people see what they are doing and the people they serve, they will say, “Hey that’s a good cause, I’ll send them money”. She wasn’t wrong. But she wasn’t totally right either. She only had half the equation; she was speaking to the Server givers in her donor pool, who would see the article and be moved to action.
The other half is that a rewarder would read the news article, close the paper, and walk away. They would certainly appreciate the work that was being performed, but would not be moved to action because there was no call to action; there was no request for help nor any evidence of the organization doing something that a rewarder could well, reward with their assistance. To complete the cycle and speak to both groups of givers – servers and rewarders – the organization would also have to show action, maybe a piece on the results of their activity or a testimonial from a constituent served on what they did because of this group, as well as a request spelled out –“We Need Your Help Now. Please send us $25 today to take this work to the next level”.
Servers and Rewarders are both equally giving, they are just compelled to act based on different criteria. Recognizing this, preparing for it, and employing different techniques in communication and solicitation will help you meet both of their needs.