Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Erich W. Baumgartner

Second Advisor

Isadore Newman

Third Advisor

Gilles Gravelle

Abstract

The Seed Company, a faith-based organization committed to Bible translation projects for hundreds of minority language communities, depends upon major donor support for its success and growth. There is a dearth of research available regarding philanthropic characteristics of major donors within The Seed Company resulting in a significant knowledge gap for healthy major donor programs based upon objective data. This study confirmed the value of several development approaches, particularly the importance of intentionally building a sense of community and relationship around the cause of the organization.

The study analyzed relationships between demographics, experiences related to the organization, and six independent variables derived from practitioner and theoretical perspectives with three dependent variables consisting of entry level, rising level, and high level major donor constituencies within the organization. The research tested the relevance of the variables in the particular context of The Seed Company thus providing input to the organization and baseline data to help fill the knowledge gap in this philanthropic domain. To address this need, a response-based survey was mailed to all accessible major donors who made contributions during the period of 2008–2012. The responses from the survey were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics.

Significant differences between major donor segments were revealed based on age, education, marital status, and financial capacity. Further, the importance of alignment with the mission and vision of the organization, esteem for its leadership, involvement with the organization, and the importance of direct requests were strongly correlated with major donor behavior. The most significant finding is that donors with the highest sense of involvement tended to give at the highest levels. Stated another way, those with the highest levels of giving reported the greatest levels of participation in the community of donors associated with the work of The Seed Company. Additional meaningful research may be conducted by investigating behaviors among alternate segments of the major donor constituency within The Seed Company and similar organizations.

Subject Area

Philanthropists, Charities, Gifts.

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