The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of chief development officers about the influence of socio-demographic, alumni involvement, and student experience factors of alumni on major giving to higher education institutions. This study also involved the investigation of differences between institutions with respect to institution type and alumni population size. Additionally, the researcher constructed a profile of chief development officers from the respondents' demographic information.
The population of this study consisted of chief development officers from each of the 283 Carnegie classified Doctoral Research Universities (Carnegie Foundation, 2007). Of the 283 institutions included in this study, eight private, for-profit, institutions did not have official fundraising programs. This resulted in a net population of 275 institutions, from which 25 were used in the pilot study. Of the 250 surveys mailed, 166 were returned for a response rate of 66%.
Five socio-demographic factors were found to have a positive influence on alumni major giving. Married to another alumnus (M = 4.37, SD = .60), annual household income greater than $100,000 (M = 4.13, SD = .68), undergraduate college or school was business (M = 4.06, SD = .61), graduation year or time since degree earned (M = 4.04, SD = .69), and earned more than one degree from the institution ( M = 4.04, SD = .71) were the most positive socio-demographic influences on major giving.
Eleven alumni involvement factors were found to have a positive influence on major giving. Serves on university volunteer boards and committees ( M = 4.71, SD = .47), positive attitude toward stewardship of gifts (M = 4.62, SD = .51), identifies with the institution's mission (M = 4.55, SD = .57), identifies with institutional leadership (M = 4.47, SD = .59), overall influence of alumni involvement (M = 4.44, SD = .58), visits campus frequently (M = 4.39, SD = .59), feeling of obligation to the institution (M = 4.23, SD = .63), attends alumni events (M = 4.16, SD = .64), reads alumni publications (M = 4.14, SD = .51), perceived need of the institution (M = 4.08, SD = .60), and visits alumni Web Site frequently (M = 4.01, SD = .59) were rated between somewhat of a positive influence and strong positive influence.
Three student experience factors were found to have a positive influence on alumni major giving. Satisfaction with the quality of faculty ( M = 4.50, SD = .58), overall influence of student experience (M = 4.33, SD = .57), and developed positive peer relationships (M = 4.10, SD = .58) were the student experience factors that had the greatest effect on alumni major giving.
A significant difference was found between public and private institutions (t = 2.01, DF = 161, p < .05) with respect to the influence of student experiences on alumni major giving. Chief development officers from private institutions weighted the influence of student experience factors on giving more heavily than chief development officers from public institutions.
The mean age of chief development officers was slightly over 50 years. Chief development officers had been in their position for over five years, had slightly more than 20 years of fundraising experience, and had been working in higher education institutional advancement for over 18 years. Chief development officers worked at institutions having more than 19,600 FTE students enrolled, more than 145,000 alumni, and having a minimum major gift amount of $54,000. Thirty-eight percent of chief development officers were female and 62% were male. Ninety-three percent of chief development officers were Caucasian, 5% were African-American, and slightly more than 1% were Hispanic/Latino.