Prestige, charitable deductions and other determinants of alumni giving: Evidence from a highly selective liberal arts college
Private institutions of higher education are highly dependent on alumni support to cover operating expenses, fund endowments and fuel large capital campaigns. For example, in 2004, alumni at private liberal arts colleges generated nearly 43% of total voluntary support and funded 21.5% of total institutional expenditures. This paper uses 15 years of detailed data on alumni donations to a private liberal arts college to explore a full range of potential determinants of giving. Results suggest that wealthy alumni who live in states that allow charitable tax deductions are more generous than otherwise similar alumni in states without such subsidies. Alumni contributions also increase in years when the college has achieved greater athletic prestige but fall when academic prestige rises. Furthermore, recent alumni are more influenced by institutional prestige than older graduates. With regard to other determinants, females tend to be more generous, as do alumni living in wealthier neighborhoods within 250 miles of the college. Alumni who have close alumni relatives tend to give more as do alumni who participated in campus activities during their college years. Undergraduate major and occupational sector are also strong predictors of giving behavior.
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