Development and fundraising practices in divisions of student affairs at private institutions
Fresk, Kara Lee
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This study explored divisions of student affairs’ involvement in development and fundraising at medium and large private, not-for-profit institutions of higher education granting baccalaureate or advanced graduate degrees in the United States. Senior student affairs officers from 344 institutions received invitations to participate. A total of 66 responded (18.6%) to a questionnaire intended to (a) identify the extent to which student affairs units at private institutions engage in development and fundraising activities, (b) identify common development and fundraising models, approaches, and practices in student affairs units at private institutions, (c) identify fundraising and development activities in student affairs units at private institutions that are most successful in terms of average dollars raised, and (d) determine whether there is a difference between development and fundraising models, approaches, and practices in student affairs units at private and public institutions. Findings revealed that student affairs’ involvement in development and fundraising at private institutions is limited, with most of the represented institutions utilizing a centralized development and fundraising model. Inclusion in an institutional capital campaign was the only fundraising practice that influenced fundraising success in terms of dollars raised. Further analysis of the findings revealed that institutional size and mission only minimally influenced development and fundraising models, approaches, and practices at the private institutions represented in the study. A comparison of data collected in this study and data collected in a previous study exploring the same topic at public institutions revealed significant differences attributed to institutional type, with public institutions being more likely to operate under a decentralized model of development and fundraising and more frequently engaged in all phases of the fundraising process. The results of this study suggest several implications for practice, including (a) defining success based on identified needs, (b) championing for student affairs priorities to be included in capital campaigns, (c) maintaining strong relationships with institutional advancement, (d) increasing training and preparation for development and fundraising, and (e) utilizing available best practice models for development and fundraising in student affairs.