Factors which promote or limit minority alumni support of a predominantly White private church-associated university

Lottie Jean Smith, Marquette University


The often prevalent assumption that minorities will be recipients of services rather than contributors, has led many institutions of higher education to ignore cultivation of minority alumni groups. The less than enthusiastic effort is due in part to a lack of understanding of what factors promote or limit minority groups philanthropic behavior. These factors may include cultural traditions of philanthropy, knowledge of and understanding of philanthropy as well as attitude and impressions minority graduates have of the institution. This study identifies and investigates the presence of cultural factors which promote or limit support from minority groups. It identifies factors that are attributed to individual perceptions of the institution and how those perceptions impact the minority's decision to support or withhold support. Research indicates that the cultures of giving among minority groups vary. This study identifies and supports those factors which promote positively minority support of institutions of higher education. It further provides an in-depth account of experiences and perceptions of five minority graduates of a compensatory educational program at a predominantly white private church-related university. Qualitative case-study methodology was used to describe the culture of giving of the minority groups and their perceived experiences while attending the University. An informational survey was used to gather preliminary information, and five respondents were chosen for case-study interviews. The results of this study supports the existence of cultural differences of philanthropy. The study suggests factors which hinder the solicitation and cultivation of minority alumni. Those factors include different understandings of philanthropy, perceived racial discrimination and feelings of not belonging. While results of the study support the existence of cultural and institutional barriers to successful cultivation of minority alumni groups, it further suggests that there are methods by which obstacles; can be overcome to the extent necessary to achieve positive response from minority alumni. The five case-study participants provide an examination of cultural notions and understanding of philanthropy as well as their perceptions of the University. The case-study and research findings have the potential to impact positively on institutions of higher education policy and future cultivation of minority graduates.

Recommended Citation

Smith, Lottie Jean, "Factors which promote or limit minority alumni support of a predominantly White private church-associated university" (1998). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9901740.