Factors in the Undergraduate Experience that Influence Young Alumni Giving


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Virginia Tech


Public funding of higher education has declined substantially in recent years (Alexander, 2000; Esposito, 2010; Mortenson, 2012; NACUBO, 2011; Redd, 2014; Serna and Harris, 2014), while operating costs and demand have increased (Desrochers and Kirshstein, 2012; Mortenson, 2012; Mumper and Freeman, 2011; NCSES, 2014; Serna and Harris, 2014; St. John and Parsons, 2004), forcing institutions to look for alternative sources of revenue (NCSL, 2010). One such alternative source of revenue is alumni giving (Monks, 2003; Archibald and Feldman, 2012; CAE, 2014).

Research has shown that the factors that influence alumni financial giving include demographic characteristics (Hoyt, 2004; Monks, 2003), academic experiences (Monks, 2003; Pumerantz, 2005), social experiences (Monks, 2005; Thomas and Smart, 2005; Volkwein, 1989), and alumni participation variables (Gaier, 2005; Gallo and Hubschman, 2003).

Although there is ample evidence to support the importance of alumni giving, researchers have not examined the factors that influence young alumni giving. This study sought to determine if demographic characteristics, academic experiences and social experiences explain the variance in alumni giving to their alma mater within five years of graduating. I conducted a case study at a single institution and used Volkwein's (1989) model of giving coupled with data from the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) that captured alumni's demographic characteristics and measured their academic and social experiences while in college. I merged NSSE with data about giving that I retrieved from the Development Office at the selected institution.

The variables included five Demographic items, fourteen Academic Experience items with numerous sub-items, and twelve Social Experience items with numerous sub-items. Exploratory factor analysis revealed five academic factors and four social factors. The results of a multiple regression analysis revealed that only one factor, Class Assignments, explained the variance in young alumni giving, but it may have been spurious. It would appear that demographic characteristics and academic and social factors determined from NSSE are not particularly useful in explaining giving by young alumni. Indeed, only 14.5% of participants actually made a donation within five years of graduating. Clearly more research is needed to expand upon the literature about alumni giving.



Alumni giving, Undergraduate academic experiences, Undergraduate social experiences