Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Committee Chair

Petrosko, Joseph M., 1947-

Author's Keywords

Membership dues; Alumni association


Universities and colleges--Alumni and alumnae--United States--Societies, etc.; Universities and colleges--Alumni and alumnae--Charitable contributions--United States


Public higher education institutions are presently faced with a perfect storm of financial crises. State appropriations are on the decline, endowments have been substantially reduced as a result of the declining stock market, generally poor economic conditions across the board, and recent, historically high tuition increases make additional tuition hikes an unattractive option for a non-tax based revenue source. As a result of the economic climate within public higher education finance, institutions must increasingly rely on alternative revenue sources, which are largely made up of alumni support. According to Taylor and Massey (1996), "Alumni are a unique, select, and continuing source of support that is one of the most valuable resources any institution has" (pp. 72). The need for institutional alumni associations is great, as public colleges and universities depend upon these organizations to cultivate relationships with their alumni, which in turn translates into alumni giving and support. One of the ways in which alumni associations cultivate relationships and maintain alumni involvement is through dues-based membership. Dues-based alumni associations utilize their membership program as a means to build relationships, introduce nondonor alumni to institutional philanthropy, and to provide the funding necessary for the association to operate with minimal university funding. The purpose of this study was to determine what factors were related to alumni membership in dues-based alumni associations and to examine the relationships between alumni association membership and alumni giving to the alma mater. Data were collected through a survey questionnaire mailed to a sample of alumni at a large, doctoral-granting, public research university in the south. Data from the university's alumni database were also used in this study. The results of this study revealed that the best alumni association member prospects were university graduates who were older, donors, aware of other alumni association members, and satisfied with the alumni association. The best prospects for life membership were university graduates who had been involved in many extracurricular activities as a student at the university and who were donors, frequently involved with the association and university, and satisfied with the alumni association. The results indicated that a relationship between alumni giving and alumni association membership existed, with current association members being 4.8 times more likely than nonmembers to be current donors to the university (35.1% versus 7.3%) and 11.5 times more likely than nonmembers to be donors of at least $10,000 (6.9% versus 0.6%). The findings revealed that life members were the best prospects for alumni giving, with life members being 5.7 times more likely than nonmembers to be current donors to the university (41.1% versus 7.3%) and 19.8 times more likely than nonmembers to be donors of at least $10,000 (11.9% versus 0.6%).