Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Ronald Hallett

First Committee Member

Rod Githens

Second Committee Member

Linda Webster


Alumni giving has become a vital revenue source for colleges and universities in the United States. For private universities, alumni support is integral to the institution’s growth and sustainability. As a result, there is a growing body of research on the factors that influence alumni giving in order for fundraising professionals to identify potential donors. This study aimed to enhance this body of research by examining first-generation, low-income, alumni giving from Hispanic women from a California Private University’s (CPU) Neighborhood Engagement Program (NEP). NEP is a need-based scholarship program for underserved students from CPU’s host city. The purpose of the study was to explore how NEP alumni become financially motivated to support a CPU as well as analyze how the social exchange theory can explain their giving behavior. The study employed a case study methodology, using NEP alumni giving and interviews to gather data. Out of the 1,177 alumni, 408 (34.6%) had made a gift to the university in their lifetime. In addition, the Hispanic alumni from this group gave at a more significant rate than other ethnic groups.

Alumni who had made at least five gifts within the last five years from the university’s host city were invited to participate. This resulted in four Hispanic women agreeing to the interview. The study found that NEP alumni were motivated to give based on their positive undergraduate experience and their continued engagement with the university as alumni. The participants supported areas at the university that provided them with a sense of family and home while they were undergraduate students. These participants felt isolated at the university as they were from a minority group and as a result, they gravitated to programs and activities that connected them with peers from their same ethnic group. The NEP alumni were grateful for the scholarship support they received and now primarily give to scholarships to support Hispanic students. In exchange for giving, NEP alumni receive feelings that enhance their self-esteem and image as well as recognition. The findings support prior research on alumni giving and adds to this growing body of research.