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Donations and the Pursuit of Mission in Higher Education (WP-08-04)

Burton Weisbrod, Jeffrey Ballou, and Evelyn Asch

Private donations—from individuals, corporations, and foundations—are a major revenue source for colleges and universities in the United States, but little is known about the sources of the great variation among schools. The research reported here estimates the influence of such variables as whether the school is public or private nonprofit, its solicitation efforts, size, and endowment wealth, and the publicity it receives for its achievements. Our research distinguishes between the effects of achievements in athletics and in academics, the effects of each of those on various donor groups, including the disaggregation of individuals into alumni, parents, and other individuals, and the effects not only on total donations but on giving to athletic and to academic programs.

Burton Weisbrod, John Evans Professor of Economics; Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Jeffrey Ballou, Economist, Mathematica Policy Research

Evelyn Asch, Research Coordinator, Higher Education Research Project, Northwestern University

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