Murray State Theses and Dissertations



Competition for donors and dollars between higher education and the non-profit sector has never been greater, with Americans giving nearly $450 billion in philanthropic support to charitable organizations in 2019 (IUPUI, 2020). Alumni of higher education institutions are a natural constituency group with a history of giving back to support student needs and programs.

New research in fundraising for higher education analyzing generational giving behaviors of alumni graduate donors could help universities better understand their giving results and support the innovation of new fundraising strategies and best practices. This quantitative research study used historical giving data to examine the generational giving behaviors of alumni graduate donors from a regional four-year public university. Generational giving behaviors of alumni graduates are important to consider as significant wealth transfers are forecast to take place as the Baby Boomers age and pass their wealth to the younger generations (Beckman, 2020). This study found statistically significant relationships for alumni graduate donors between generational groups over lifetime giving data and transactions, several types of student engagement, and preferences for gift designations. The results of this study may provide a better understanding of alumni giving behaviors and could help universities address declining participation rates for a group of constituents who should be the most generous givers. Future research in higher education alumni giving and engagement inspired through this study could include examining family giving behaviors to alma mater, or evaluating for a relationship between generation and alumni volunteering and community service.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

Generational Giving, Public Higher Education, Fundraising, Alumni Giving, Student Engagement, Giving

Dissertation Committee Chair

Teresa Clark

Committee Member

David Durr

Committee Member

Ben Littlepage

Document Type