Factors that motivate Hispanic donors to philanthropically support higher education
O'Connor, William J.
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Hispanic enrollments and graduation rates in higher education are increasing and Hispanics, therefore, constitute an increasing number of college and university alumni/ae. The philanthropic attitudes and practices of Hispanic alumni/ae will influence the success of development programs with high numbers of Hispanic graduates. This quantitative study involved Hispanic alumni/ae donors from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas and from Whittier College, in Los Angeles, California. The purpose of this study was to determine how high of a philanthropic priority is higher education in the Hispanic community, what factors influence Hispanic alumni/ae to support their alma mater, what do Hispanic donors cite as the most effective modes of solicitation, what are the funding priorities of Hispanic donors when supporting higher education and are there significant differences between groups based on generation in the United States, gender, or the size of the most recent gift. Descriptive statistics were calculated and presented for all dependent variables and the results were analyzed using one-way ANOVAS and Independent Samples T-tests. The findings demonstrate that the sample population rated giving to their alma mater as a high philanthropic priority and were most influenced to give by their sense of loyalty to their college and the desire to help a new generation of students. The participants preferred to be contacted through mail or through phoning, and preferred to direct their gifts to specific scholarships or programs rather than give unrestricted support. The comparative means analysis revealed relatively little variation in the perceptions of various generations of Hispanics in the United States and relatively little variation between the perceptions of men and women. More variation was found in the perceptions of those donors who last gift was less than $100 and those donors who last gift was more than $100. The study demonstrated that the philanthropic behavior and attitudes of Hispanic alumni/ae donors at UST and Whittier resemble the philanthropic behavior and attitudes of the majority culture. The participants were highly educated and were affluent. Their educational attainment and income level resembled a middle- to upper-class population and the socioeconomic status might account for the similarity in philanthropic behavior and attitudes. The study demonstrates that Hispanic alumni at these two institutions do support their alma mater philanthropically and should be cultivated, solicited and stewarded for continued support. The narrow sample population does not allow the findings to be generalized. Further research is needed to generalize the findings, and future studies would need to include a broader sample population of donors and non-donors alike from a diversity of institutional types. Further research could help build a baseline of literature on Hispanic giving to higher education and could help to enhance the body of literature emerging on giving in communities of color. Most importantly, the participants in this study showed a commitment to higher education and a desire to help future generations of students attain a college degree. While Hispanic enrollments and graduation rates have increased in recent years, Hispanics, in general, are still underrepresented on college campuses. Philanthropy can play a role in helping to encourage increased Hispanic enrollments through providing scholarship and programmatic support for students.