Middlebury Professor Paul Sommers kindly provided a pdf of his article: “Athletics and Alumni Giving Evidence From a Highly Selective Liberal Arts College,” co-authored with Jessica Holmes and James Meditz. We have discussed this article already here and here. For the rest of the week, I will be highlighting different aspects of the article and adding my own thoughts. Please join the conversation.

Let’s start with an interesting paragraph.

The other determinants behave largely as predicted across all specifications. For example, males are about 30% less likely to give and to give about 20% fewer dollars than their female counterparts; this is consistent with the findings in several other studies (e.g., Belfield & Beney, 2000; Bruggink & Siddiqui, 1995; Eckel & Grossman, 1998). Older alumni are both more likely to give and to give more generously, reflective of their greater income potential. Married alumni are about 48% more likely to contribute to their alma mater and tend to give about 44% more than their single counterparts. Alumni with close alumni relatives are about 30% more likely to donate and contribute about 30% more than alumni without relatives with ties to the institution. As expected, those who live in communities with higher median incomes are both more likely donors and more generous givers.

1) Fascinating stuff. If you are a Williams junior, you should write a senior thesis or give a math/stat colloquium on this topic.

2) Do women really give more than men? I doubt it. Note the key data source: “We obtained data on annual giving (between 1990 and 2004) for 22,641 active alumni (for whom a mailing address is known or about 95% of the alumni pool) from the Middlebury College Development Office.” If Middlebury is like Williams than, broadly speaking, alumni donations fall into two categories: regular annual giving — this is the Alumni Fun that appeals to your generosity each year — and special/leadership/campaign giving. This latter category contains almost all the big gifts (and the panther’s share of total dollars). See Williams breakdown here. I think that the data from this paper does not include major gifts. My sense is that major gifts skew heavily male. (Informed commentary welcome. Can you name any major gifts from Williams women?) If that is the case, then this data does not really allow us to decide who gives more on average.

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