- Conceptualization and Validation of Factors for LGBTQ Alumni Philanthropy
In recent years, philanthropy in higher education has shifted from a value-added financial benefit into a necessary component for balancing annual budgets and increasing college access (Drezner, 2011; Walton, Gasman, Huehls, Wells, & Drezner, 2008). Furthermore, the cost for a college degree continues to rise beyond inflation, challenging college access and affordability for more students and their families (Hemelt & Marcotte, 2011). Recent financial crises have required student affairs staff to develop skills in fundraising and alumni relations (Puma, 2013; De Sawal & Maxwell, 2014). Because alumni giving accounts for over one quarter of voluntary support to higher education (Kaplan, 2014), it is imperative that student affairs staff cultivate healthy and philanthropic relationships with graduates. As such, staff must utilize new and innovative strategies to develop and strengthen relationships with alumni, especially among populations that have not traditionally been engaged (Drezner, 2013; Gasman & Bowman, 2013). Identity-based philanthropy in higher education is gaining prominence in both practice and scholarship, recognizing that social identities are strong influences on alumni engagement and giving. However, scholarship and practice involving lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer (LGBTQ) alumni is scarce and mostly anecdotal, relying on professional or personal experiences and not empirical evidence.
Combining scholarship on higher education philanthropy and LGBTQ students helps create a conceptual framework for understanding LGBTQ alumni philanthropy. These theoretical foundations emphasize the relevance of academic quality and satisfaction as well as campus climate perceptions in understanding philanthropic motivations among LGBTQ alumni, The quality and value of undergraduate experiences is a critical factor in predicting alumni support (Clotfelter, 2008; Weerts & Ronca, 2007). In fact, Monks (2003) discussed that “the single biggest determinant of the generosity of alumni donations is satisfaction with one’s undergraduate experiences” (p. 129). Academic experiences, in particular, have a significant relationship with alumni philanthropy (Clotfelter, 2003; Gaier, 2005; Monks, 2003). College and university graduates from historically marginalized communities have distinctive relationships with their alma maters (Drezner, 2013), and these unique positionalities are greatly shaped by their experiences as undergraduate students and alumni (Drezner & Huehls, 2014). Researchers have demonstrated that colleges and universities remain largely hostile environments for LGBTQ students and that these individuals generally perceive the campus climate as less inviting than do their peers (Garvey & Rankin, 2015; Garvey, Taylor, & Rankin, 2014; Rankin, Blumenfeld, Weber, & Frazer, 2010). For LGBTQ alumni, their [End Page 748] engagement with and giving to their alma mater are often experienced through the lenses of their gender and sexuality (Garvey & Drezner, 2013; Sanlo, 2002). Developing a greater understanding of LGBTQ alumni experiences can assist student affairs and advancement staff in attracting a more active and engaged LGBTQ alumni community. As such, the purpose of this study was to conceptualize and validate factors for LGBTQ alumni philanthropy.
METHOD AND RESULTS
The conceptualization and validation of factors for LGBTQ alumni philanthropy involved three steps: instrument review by content experts and potential respondents conducted in fall 2012, a pilot study conducted in spring 2013, and The National LGBTQ Alumni Survey conducted in spring 2014. An electronic survey was developed to operationalize philanthropic involvement among LGBTQ undergraduate alumni from 4-year institutions of higher education and included four distinct categories: demographics, undergraduate student experiences, alumni experiences, and philanthropy and giving. Within the categories, 110 items were written to represent 11 latent factors related to LGBTQ alumni philanthropy, guided by scholarship on higher education philanthropy and LGBTQ students.
Instrument Review by Content Experts and Potential Respondents
Validity for the items and accompanying latent factors were established before survey administration. Four content experts were selected based on their professional and research expertise in higher education philanthropy and LGBTQ students. These experts reviewed the survey and provided information regarding the conceptualization and representation of factors. In addition, nine LGBTQ alumni were invited as potential respondents to critique the overall functioning of the survey as well as items and accompanying factors. Based on reviews from content experts and potential respondents, 39 items and one factor were eliminated, reducing the total number of items from 110 to 71 and the total number of factors from 11 to 10. I eliminated a factor that measured trust from the alumni experiences category...