Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





First Advisor

Ann M. Gansemer-Topf


Declines in the public funding of higher education have made philanthropic support from alumni an important component in the financial health of institutions, and this issue is not likely to go away. Previous research has indicated that alumni are more likely to philanthropically support their alma mater through financial giving, volunteering, and advocacy if they were philanthropically engaged in the institution as young alumni. However, little research has been done to understand young alumni philanthropic support of their alma maters.

Using social exchange theory, this basic interpretive study explored how young alumni philanthropically support their alma mater and how they plan to support their alma mater in the future, and examined their perspective about the costs and benefits of their philanthropic support. The key findings of the research were that participants derived a variety of benefits from philanthropically supporting their alma mater, and the benefits that they received outweighed the cost of their support. Meaningful student experiences also played a key role in why young alumni support their alma mater, and philanthropy is a skill that participants learned over time, and personal relationships played a key role in influencing their philanthropic behavior. In addition volunteer participation increased over time, and volunteering was a catalyst for advocacy and financial support. Finally, participants wanted to philanthropically support their alma mater in the future, but they were unclear about the opportunities for doing so.

The results of this study provided important implications for practice including providing students with meaningful experiences that make them feel connected, examining inclusivity in young alumni activities, educating and encouraging student and young alumni philanthropy, providing flexible opportunities for involvement and advocacy opportunities, showing the impact of young alumni support, and recognizing the interrelatedness of campus units. Increased knowledge about young alumni philanthropic support has the potential to help higher education institutions significantly increase current and future private giving in order to help them better accomplish their academic missions.


Copyright Owner

Kimberly Mae McDonough



File Format


File Size

168 pages