Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


Engagement as a Predictor of Charitable Giving to One's Alma Mater

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Rachel Vannatta (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Kristen Rudisill (Other)

Third Advisor

Kristina LaVenia (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Patrick Pauken (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Jaclyn Schalk (Committee Member)


In recent years institutions of higher education have received increased pressure to enhance private charitable gift support in divisions of university advancement (Drezner, 2013). Divisions of university advancement frequently depend on tracking past gifts to predict future gifts and not consistently consider whether alumni engagement is a predictor of future giving (Kelly, 1998). Alumni engagement is defined as, “Activities that are valued by alumni, build enduring and mutually beneficial relationships, inspire loyalty and financial support, strengthen the institution’s reputation and involve alumni in meaningful activities to advance the institution’s mission” (CASE, 2018, p. 5). The purpose of this study was to evaluate how engagement as a student and as an alumnus relates to alumni charitable giving. The study considered engagement factors that specifically related to the undergraduate student experience as well as factors related to alumni. This study considered which factors may be predictive of charitable giving as an alumnus. This study also considered whether the stage of relationship between the alumnus and the university, when a charitable gift was made, predicted lifetime charitable giving amount. The study examined engagement as it pertains to giving using forward logistic regression analysis and forward multiple regression to examine variables and their relationships. The population of this study was alumni of a small private religiously-affiliated university in the Midwest and utilized a secondary data set. Results of the forward logistic regression produced a three-factor model, indicating that receiving a university scholarship more than doubled the odds of an alumnus making a gift to their alma mater. The result of the forward multiple regression did not indicate that participation in a team sport or membership in a registered student organization increased the odds of charitable giving to one’s alma mater. Forward logistic regression generated a three-factor model that significantly impacts charitable giving as an alumnus; -2 Log Likelihood = 42,604.74, X^2(3, 32119) = 1919.39, p<.0001. The model correctly predicts the outcome with 60.3% accuracy. The Nagelkerke R^2 = .007 which indicates 7.7% of variance in giving was explained by the predictor. Receiving a University scholarship generated an Odds Ratio of 2.681, which indicated that as receiving a University scholarship increases by 1, the odds of the alumnus making a gift to their alma mater increases over 2 times. Forward multiple regression was conducted to determine which independent variables (amount given before first degree, amount given as a recent alumnus, and amount given before first degree and as a recent alumnus) predict overall or lifetime charitable giving total amount. No significant model was generated. Multiple regression was conducted focusing on only givers, and still no significant model was generated.