Characteristics of alumni donors and non-donors at a Research I public university

Martin, Joseph Clifton, Department of Education, University of Virginia
Taylor, Alton, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Decker, Larry E., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Gansneder, Bruce, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Wagoner, Jr., Jennings L., Curry School of Education, u

The problem facing institutions of higher education today is the gap created by the difference between institutional needs and available resources. The question to be addressed is, how can colleges and universities increase funding to finance adequately their specific needs? Although alumni giving is the largest donor category within institutions of higher education, alumni giving still represents a source of income that has not been fully understood, or developed.

The purpose of this study was to examine the donor behavior of alumni of a Research I, public university. The study used demographic, attitudinal, involvement, and philanthropic variables derived from the literature review to discriminate alumni donors from non-donors and to discriminate alumni high-donors from low-donors to the university.

Data for the study were gathered through a 32 item self-reporting survey instrument mailed to a random sample of 500 alumni, 250 donors and 250 non-donors, selected from the population (N=37,691) of alumni who graduated from the university from 1975 through 1985. An overall response rate of 80% was realized. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS-X) program DISCRIMINANT was used to apply two-group discriminant function analyses to the data.

For donor status, six variables entered the discriminant function and were retained as discriminators between alumni donors and non-donors: family income, perceived need for financial support, reading alumni publications, subsequent enrollment for graduate work, special interest group, and involvement with university as an alumnus/a. In the discriminant function used for donor level, seven variables were retained as discriminators between alumni high-donors and low-donors: subsequent enrollment for graduate work, family income, perceived need for financial support, involvement with university as an alumnus/a, greek system, departmental club or organization, and religious preference.

Group membership of the alumni was predicted using the classification step in a discriminant function analysis. In this study, 65% of the alumni were correctly classified as donors or non-donors, and 87% of the alumni donors were correctly classified as high-donors or low-donors. Institutional recommendations and recommendations for further studies are suggested.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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