Generous by Design
Michael Geminder’s career in design happily coincided with the technology revolution. After studying design at UC Davis, Michael began working in the textile industry in the early 1990s, when designs were still cut out of paper. It was not long before computers revolutionized the field of design, and Michael expanded his skills from textiles to print-based design–direct mail, business collateral, catalogs, and ad work– which led him to Web design and ultimately to user experience design. Along the way he lived in two of the country’s tech meccas–Seattle and Silicon Valley–before settling in Sacramento, where he has family ties and fond recollections of his college days.
A self-described “organized list maker,” Michael likes taking quantities of information and organizing it to make it easy to consume. So, when it came to getting started in philanthropy, he turned to the Foundation as a resource for organizing his charitable giving. “I had a lot of experience with fundraising events and on-line donations,” he said, “but I didn’t feel comfortable making larger gifts that way.” By opening a donor advised fund, the Geminder Lewis Fund, he had immediate access to the staff, educational, and technology services the Foundation provides. The discipline of giving through a donor advised fund can help turn random, reactive giving into planned and thoughtful philanthropy: generosity by design.
Moving to California’s capital city was a conscious living decision for Michael and his partner, Bridget Lewis. Though both Michael and Bridget are tech savvy, they remain down-to-earth and appreciate the low-tech craft of letterpress printing, the humanities and culture, gardening and nature. These values are reflected in their giving to organizations that preserve and improve the quality of life in their community. As Michael says, “You ask yourself, what are small decisions you can make that have lasting effect, like planting a tree.” Watching his nephews grow up, Michael thinks about how his decisions will help them–or their kids. “Longer term feels important now.”
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