Determinants of Alumni Giving to a Private U.S. College: Evidence from Oberlin College

Kenneth Kitahata, Oberlin College

This paper studies the personal characteristics and factors that determine alumni giving, using a dataset from Oberlin College’s Office of Development from years 1974 – 2019. Liberal arts colleges like Oberlin are especially dependent on gifts to cover operating expenses and fund endowments as they do not receive direct public funding. Using Logit and Tobit regression, I find that females, graduates, older alumni, married alumni, alumni whose spouse attended Oberlin, and having a higher GPA in college are associated with higher giving. Media coverage in years when Oberlin faces bad press lowers giving. The state charitable tax deduction increases giving on the intensive margin (total amount donated) but not the extensive margin (likelihood to give). Additionally, findings suggest that taking longer to graduate, enrollment in the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and living in rural areas are associated with lower giving. Athletics, race, and undergraduate financial aid do not affect giving.

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