ERIC Identifier: ED321705
Publication Date: 1990-00-00
Author: Brittingham, Barbara E. - Pezzullo, Thomas R.
Source: Association for the Study of Higher Education.| ERIC
Clearinghouse on Higher Education Washington DC.| George Washington Univ.
Washington DC. School of Education.
The Campus Green: Fund Raising in Higher Education.
In the last two decades, private support has become increasingly important
to American institutions of higher education, yet research on fund raising
has lagged behind the expansion of institutional effort.
WHAT ARE THE CHANGES AND TRENDS?
Fund raising in American higher education dates back nearly 350 years,
and several historical changes have taken place:
* Traditional church-affiliated and individual and personal solicitation
has been replaced with increased direct institutional appeals of an organizational
and professional nature.
* The notion of charity has been replaced with philanthropy, and theories
of donors' behavior have changed accordingly.
* While once considered an adjunct to the duties of the president or
a few trustees, fund raising has become a central institutional activity.
*Though once limited to independent colleges, fund raising in public
higher education has become accepted.
The recent past and the foreseeable future will be characterized by
more formal and centrally planned fund-raising programs, greater use of
marketing principles, broader acceptance of an exchange model of donors'
behavior, rather than an entirely altruistic one, and wider competition
for private funds from every type of institution, including, most recently,
public two-year colleges.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS?
Studies of institutional effectiveness using institutional, student,
and alumni characteristics and analyses of donors' behavior have dominated
research in fund raising for the last 20 years. Although few unqualified
generalizations about effectiveness can be made from the literature, a
clear and consistent association is found between dollars spent on fund
raising and results of fund raising. But increased spending is not the
same as wisely increased spending, and little research is available for
guidance on how to spend well. Beyond the level of spending, many studies
associate success in fund raising with institutional pride, prestige, and
emotional attachment by alumni. These results are important to the practitioner,
because properly organized advancement programs to enhance pride, prestige,
and alumni attachment can be part of a comprehensive strategy to enhance
fund raising. Some factors generally associated with successful fund raising,
however, are not under the control of the advancement office or readily
altered in the interests of fund raising (size, location, historical success
in fund raising, and type of governance, for example).
WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT SPENDING?
Research on spending has been limited to surveys, providing limited
insight into optimum level, relation to output, or control of marginal
costs of fund raising. The best informed advice suggests that internal
rather than cross-institutional comparisons should be made, with careful
attention to monitoring average costs, changes in marginal cost per gift
dollar, diminishing returns, the percent of total institutional budget
spent on advancement, and gift income by source and program.
WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT DONOR BEHAVIOR?
The more promising models of individuals' behavior as donors depart
from models of pure altruism in favor of exchange models, which attempt
to explain donors' motives based on receipt of "goods"--perquisites, tokens,
or honors--in exchange for the gift, and a repeated disequilibrium that
follows, leaving the donor with a need to respond to recognition and acknowledgment
with yet more gifts.
In general, people more disposed to giving are religious (especially
Protestant), married with children, women, and better educated. Alumni
donors tend to be wealthier, be middle-aged or older, have strong emotional
ties to their alma maters, have earned at least a bachelor's degree, participate
in some alumni activities, and have religious or voluntary affiliations.
Sex and marital status are not good predictors of alumni giving. The search
for precollege or college variables (including major, place of residence,
and participation in student activities) associated with giving has yielded
few consistent findings, though having sufficient financial aid, particularly
in the form of scholarships, may be related to future giving.
Corporate giving is tied to self-interest, such as gains in research
in the area of the company's needs, production of trained personnel, employees'
morale, and the improvement of the community's environment.
Foundations appear most interested in a college's past successes, the
evidence of its ability to perform, its size, and its prestige. Highly
focused, thinly staffed, and conservative, most foundations are inclined
to give to established and larger organizations and may follow the lead
of other donors or larger foundations without further research and evaluation.
Donors of all types seem to be aware of the link between price and quality,
favoring institutions of prestige and magnitude. Companies and organizations
respond conservatively in times of economic setback, while individuals
give despite such times. The wealthy are most sensitive to the price of
giving, responding to changes in deductibility, while the middle class
and the poor--particularly when it comes to church giving--seem unaffected
by tax incentives or fluctuations in the economy.
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR ETHICAL ISSUES?
Fund raising is tied fundamentally to an institution's values and priorities,
even as it helps shape those values and priorities. Today, fund raisers
face difficult questions--relating their energies to their institution's
overall priorities, establishing a proper relationship between donors and
the institution, determining which information the institution is obliged
to share with prospective and actual donors, knowing when a gift should
be refused, and determining the obligations of fund raisers to their institutions
and the larger community. These issues are made the more difficult because
fund raisers operate without the cloak of academic freedom, are often strongly
driven by the bottom line, and have few professional opportunities to consider
matters of values or ethics with peers from other institutions.
WHAT ARE THE PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS?
The following recommendations are offered to institutions
1. Consider sources of private support strategically, deciding which
sources have the best potential for a particular institution.
2. Designate some private support for areas that will build students'
understanding of the importance of private support for colleges and universities
and may help shape their future behavior as alumni.
3. Work to strengthen institutional traditions of philanthropy and community
4. Participate in locally useful research studies with the candid exchange
of information among peers.
The following apply to professional associations and foundations:
1. Broaden professional development conferences and workshops, going
beyond the techniques of fund raising and into research findings and discussions
of values and ethics.
2. Establish opportunities for reflection and research on practice,
such as sabbatical and study leaves and programs for visiting scholars
3. Strengthen the developing support for research in fund raising and
efforts to integrate philanthropy into the curriculum.
4. Lead and support institutions in shaping their fund raising to reflect
5. Include research and evaluation as a central focus of professional
organizations, their publications, and their meeting programs.
WHERE SHOULD FUTURE RESEARCH FOCUS?
Some suggested areas for research are offered as they derive
from the authors' review of research:
* Research on spending and the effectiveness of fund raising.
* Research on consistency of college mission.
* Research on formation of alumni donors' attitudes.
* Evaluation as research.
With these guidelines for future inquiry, it will be possible to add
crucial information to the development of an integrated theory of fund
raising, donors' behavior, and effectiveness of fund raising.
Carbone, Robert F. 1986. AN AGENDA FOR RESEARCH ON FUND RAISING. College
Park: Univ. of Maryland, Clearinghouse for Research on Fund Raising.
Duronio, Margaret A., B. Loessin, and G. Borton. 1988. A SURVEY OF FUND-RAISING
METHODS; IMPLICATIONS FOR MANAGEMENT. Working Paper No. 5. Paper presented
at a meeting of the American Educational Research Association, April, New
Orleans, Louisiana. ED 296 651. 29 pp. MF-01; PC-02.
Leslie, Larry L., and G. Ramey. 1988. "Donor Behavior and Voluntary
Support for Higher Education Institutions." JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Paton, George J. November 1985. "Research about Development: Reasons
for It, Obstacles to It."FUND RAISING MANAGEMENT: 42-49.
This ERIC Digest is based on a new full-length report in the ASHE-ERIC
Higher Education Report series, prepared by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher
Education in cooperation with the Association for the Study of Higher Education,
and published by the School of Education at the George Washington University.