Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Undergraduate alumni annual giving participation: A qualitative study assessing the readiness of collegiate annual giving programs to include undergraduate learning mode as a segmentation strategy for solicitations
by Hennessy, Colin David, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2016, 145; 10158524
Abstract (Summary)

Objective: This study examined whether there is a demonstrated difference in undergraduate annual giving participation rates based on learning mode (face-to-face, online only, or blended/hybrid). The study explored the relationship between institutional annual giving offices and undergraduate alumni from traditional, not-for- profit institutions with an overt residential college tradition for undergraduate education. In addition, the study observed post-graduate engagement between alumni and institution based on learning mode.

Method: Data was collected through two primary channels—(1) a national survey of US undergraduate degree holders using a social media group and the Amazon Mechanical Turk and (2) semi-structured personal interviews with annual giving directors at 10 US colleges and universities. Secondary data was collected through publicly available sources such as websites, rankings publications, and the National Center for Education Statistics.

Results: Results showed limited direct findings due to a lack of consistent data across institutions and no aggregated national data repository for annual giving data inclusive of learning mode. From the interviews, four primary roadblocks to increasing undergraduate annual giving participation emerged: (1) technology and data, (2) campus leadership, (3) staffing limitations, and (4) philanthropic education and campus culture.

Conclusions: Despite the arguably insignificant impact alumni annual giving participation has on institutional rankings, annual giving should be a priority on college campuses. This research, and the higher education fundraising literature, emphasize the important relationship between major gift pipeline development and a successful annual giving program. As college-going students consider all options for their degree, institutions must consider carefully how they will engage and ultimately solicit their alumni. How a graduate earned his or her degree is an important data point that directly relates to how that person interacted with the institution during his or her program of study. Colleges that are successful at annual giving develop personalized strategies that demonstrate an understanding of the relationship the graduate has with the college.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gasman, Marybeth
Commitee: Kaplan, Eric J., Kessler, Judd B., Milkman, Katherine L.
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 78/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, School administration
Keywords: Annual giving, Data segmentation, Online learning, Philanthropy, University fundraising
Publication Number: 10158524
ISBN: 9781369135329
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