Student-Donor Memberships Within Collegiate Athletics
University of Kansas
Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences
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A popular approach for showing support to collegiate athletics is by becoming a member to a college or university’s athletic annual fund. These memberships are created through an annual charitable contribution that is then exchanged for the equivalent benefits associated with the amount or giving level a person selects. Although they are not a norm within athletic annual fund, student-donor memberships are offered to current college students as a way for them to begin thinking about philanthropic giving before they graduate and leave school. As a result of the limited research that exists on donor memberships in general, the purpose of this study was to discover the primary characteristics associated with offering student-donor memberships within collegiate athletics. To further understand the benefits for offering student-donor memberships, the author used qualitative, semi-structured interviews to allow for each participant’s unique beliefs, feelings, and insights on the topic to be further explored. The participants that were interviewed within this study consisted of NCAA Division I fundraising and development associates that have had experience working with student-donor memberships. The results of this study produced five primary factors associated with student-donor memberships: structure, benefits, membership fee, communication, and branding. Additionally, the “transactional vs. transformational” and “experiences” sub-categories, both presented within the benefits theme, were significant facets of student-donor memberships that stimulated the interest of the fundraising associates being interviewed. This study contributes to literature within the realm of philanthropy, applying primarily to fundraising practices, donor relations, and structuring donor memberships. This research is useful due to there being no existing data on student-donors within collegiate athletics, but it does contribute to furthering the research conducted on donor motives within an athletic annual fund, as we attempt to extend the donor lifecycle.
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