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Which Type of Museum Donor Are You?

August 14, 2019

Giving is a deeply personal action. When you or I make a gift, we are unconditionally giving up our money. Giving reflects what is meaningful to us and what we value most. Let’s dive into this a bit more to discuss why people give.

In The Seven Faces of Philanthropy: A New Approach to Cultivating Major Donors, Russ Alan Prince and Karen Maru File organize donors into seven types:

  • Communitarian – The Communitarian seeks to keep their giving in the community.
  • Devout – A Devout donor believes their giving is a moral responsibility.
  • Dynast – A Dynast is raised in an environment where giving is a family tradition.
  • Repayer – The Repayer is obligated to give because they have benefitted from an institution.
  • Investor – Investors give because it is financially advantageous to them.
  • Altruist – The Altruist gives because “it’s the right thing to do.”
  • Socialite – Socialites give because it is a central aspect of their social life.

As a cultural institution, we strive to reflect everyone’s history. Everyone should feel like they can see themselves reflected in the museum as both visitors and donors. Socialites will want to participate in the big galas while Communitarians give because the museum is a positive aspect of their community. Investors will give when the tax break is right, and Devouts will give any time they believe it is right. Repayers might donate after their child has taken a museum field trip, but an Altruist might give anonymously because it’s the right thing to do.

You may find yourself thinking “I am totally a Repayer,” or “I’m definitely not a Socialite.” You may also find yourself falling into different categories depending on your giving. Someone might give to a food pantry as an Altruist but to their alma mater as a Repayer.

Whatever type you fall into, be proud of your giving and the impact you have on your community. At the Indiana Historical Society, we greatly appreciate all of our donors who put their trust in us to share Indiana’s rich history with everyone. Thank you.

Bryce Gorman

Bryce Gorman is the Fundraising Educator with Local History Services. He is new to Indiana and loves finding hidden treasures across the state.

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