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The Different Ways People Give to Others

By Daniel Bobinski

What motivates you to give? Do you give for the satisfaction of being generally helpful, or do you give for specific reasons?

This article is the fourth in a series about the six learned (extrinsic) motivators. The first installment examined the different ways people are motivated by knowledge. Then we looked at how tangible things – including money – may or may not motivate us. Following that we looked at how we are driven by our surroundings. This time we’re looking at different ways people are motivated to give to others.

The motivational spectrum of community
The community spectrum is about how we help others. At one end of the scale are people we call altruistic, and at the other end are those we call intentional. Altruistic people are driven to help other people just for the sake of being helpful. They give generously of their time, talent, and resources with no expectation of personal return. They have a drive to give because they enjoy being supportive. Intentional people also give, but their drive is to give in specific ways. They are selective in how and what they give because they want their giving to have specific application.

All people value others in their community, but they will demonstrate it in different ways.

Traits of an altruistic person
People in the altruistic camp tend to notice when others need help and often step up to volunteer. They believe everyone should have the opportunity to be the best they can be and may even sacrifice their own personal gain to help someone else. They get energized by being supportive of other people.

Those with strong tendencies in this area often enjoy volunteering for or even leading community outreach or assistance programs (such as blood drives or food drives), and often advocate that coworkers participate in those activities.

Traits of an intentional person
People on the intentional side of the community spectrum are driven by the desire to help others for a specific purpose, not just for the sake of being helpful. As such, they tend to be selective about who they help, when they help, and how they provide that help. As the label states, their help is intentional.

To illustrate the difference between the two drivers, think back to Hurricane Harvey, which flooded the city of Houston in 2017. An altruistic person sees the devastation and might immediately write a $500 check to the Red Cross. An intentional person will not do that, because he or she does not know how the money will be used. But if the person’s neighbor is filling a U-Haul with diapers and blankets and personal hygiene items so he can drive to Houston and personally distribute those items to churches and daycare centers, the intentional person might write a check for $500 to support that effort, because that giving is intentional.

As I said, all people place value on their community, they’re just driven to give back in different ways.

Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a best-selling author and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. For more than 30 years he’s been working with teams and individuals (1:1 coaching) to help them achieve excellence. He was also teaching Emotional Intelligence since before it was a thing. Reach Daniel through his website,, or his office: (208) 375-7606.



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