Graduation Date

Spring 2021

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Education

Committee Chair Name

Elizabeth Miller

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Eric Van Duzer

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Major donors, Higher education, Motivation factors, Fund development, Fundraising, Philanthropy

Subject Categories



Higher education has relied on private philanthropy since the establishment of the first universities in the U.S. This reliance has increased over the decades as a result of rising costs and decreased government investment. As such, it has become more critical to better understand what factors motivate philanthropists to increase their support of higher education; including direct support for teaching and research and increasing financial support for those students otherwise not able to pursue secondary education. However, much of the existing data focuses only on point-of-philanthropic-act, and neglects to examine motivational factors of long-term donors that have progressively increased their giving. The objective of this study was to better understand two key factors: 1) why a donor may increase their giving, and 2) why continue contributing to the same university over the years. This study included a qualitative survey of major donors from a mid-sized, private, faith-based university. Five themes emerged from which three conclusions were derived: (1) donors’ core values and their identification with the organization’s mission; (2) trust, transparency, and the tenuous nature of the relationship between a donor and the organization; and (3) responsibilities of university leadership in philanthropy. These data suggest that integration of these factors in higher education donor relations may serve to better meet the increasing reliance on continued and increased private investment.

Citation Style


2019 03-05 ltr_approval_exempt.pdf (268 kB)
IRB Approval 17-156 Karin Chao-Bushoven



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