Morrison, Anna L. (2015-12). Donor Motivations and Decision Making: Understanding the Major Gift Development Process from a Donor's Perspective. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Higher education is faced with a challenge to its traditional funding structure. As a result, academic programs must seek alternative sources of support. Chief among these sources is philanthropy in the form of major gifts. Insight into donor motivations and decision making when approached to consider a major gift may help to maximize the success of university development efforts. This study attempted to explore the effectiveness of the major gift development process at institutions of higher education by examining said process from the perspective of the donor. Subjects of the study included eleven donors to the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University who gave at a level of $50,000 or higher. The project utilized semi-structured interviewing as a primary qualitative method for collecting data. Content analysis was utilized to analyze data. Results revealed major findings in the following major categories: why and where donors give, the giving process and factors that influence decision making. Implications of this study indicate that donors to higher education have a pre-existing inclination to give, view the ability to develop personal relationships based on trust as a vital prerequisite to giving, can be influenced by information and education by development officers, are more likely to give if they have the opportunity to be personally involved in the program, and are ultimately influenced by how the total process makes them feel.

publication date

  • December 2015