Donation Intention in Current Students: An Analysis of University Engagement and Sense of Place in Future Athletic, Academic, and Split Donors

Charlie Brunette – University of Iowa
Ngoc Vo – University of Missouri
Nicholas M. Watanabe – University of Mississippi


Understanding the underlying reasons for giving to universities and athletics departments has become increasingly important. Furthermore, as the revenue and expenditure trajectories of major athletics departments climb as a result of competitive necessity, it is vital to maximize revenue streams to remain relevant. Within this framework, the development of donor relationships should be considered. This study investigates donation intention in current students, through university engagement, sense of place within the university setting, and as a factor of donation intention to athletic, academic, or split causes at a Power 5, Division I FBS institution. Findings suggest that current student university engagement, particularly in student groups and sport and recreation-related activities, is predictive of heightened feelings of sense of place. In addition, current students who considered future donations to both academic and athletic causes expressed greater intentions to donate. As a result, fundraising approaches may benefit in the long run if athletics and institutional development objectives focus on valuable, socially validating, and integrated experiences that support broader and deeper university relationships.