Publication Date

Summer 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jennifer Mize Smith (Director), Holly Payne, and Jieyoung Kong

Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The purpose of this study was to explore faculty/staff identification with their employing university and how that, in turn, may influence their decision to financially support the institution, or not. This study employed a case study approach and a mixed methods research design utilizing both qualitative and quantitative data. An online survey using Cheney’s (1982) Organizational Identification Questionnaire measured faculty/staff members’ identification with the organization and with their specific departments. The survey also collected data on faculty/staff past charitable giving. Following the survey, qualitative focus groups and interviews were conducted with faculty/staff members to explore what factors contributed to their decisions to support the university, or not. The survey data revealed that faculty and staff members identify more highly with their departments and staff members identify more highly overall than faculty members. Yet, the survey also revealed that faculty members gave more financially to the university than did staff members. A thematic analysis of the qualitative data revealed three overarching factors that influenced faculty/staff decisions to give, or not: affinity, capacity to give, and awareness. These findings offer insight to higher education universities and institutions about how identification between the faculty/staff members and the organization can affect their decisions to support the university. This case study makes a contribution to the literature on charitable giving, employee giving, and specifically, faculty/staff giving. It also extends extant literature on organizational identification, particularly targets of identification in a higher education context. Finally, this study offers practical implications for other universities, suggests directions for future research, and acknowledges the limitations.


Communication | Higher Education | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Organizational Communication