An Investigation of the Role of Donor Sophistication As a Moderator of Giving Decision-Making

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This dissertation consists of three papers: two empirical papers that utilize new data sources to investigate the role of donor sophistication as a moderator of giving decision-making, and a literature review that details the previous twenty years of nonprofit accounting research and discusses the possibilities of new data sources.In the two empirical papers, I examine how donor sophistication moderates how donors respond to organizational performance, governance, and compensation. The nonprofit accounting literature has been unable to directly differentiate between donations from sophisticated and novice donors, limiting prior studies to weak proxies of donor sophistication. I exploit a novel dataset of institutional donors to explicitly test differences in the nonprofit performance, governance and compensation measures used by sophisticated (institutional) and novice (individual) private donors in their giving decision-making. I find that, relative to individual donors, institutional donors respond more strongly to efficiency, financial vulnerability and governance. I also clarify prior research on the response of public donors to high levels of CEO compensation by separately examining individual donors and private foundations. I find that individual donors reduce donations to organizations with higher levels of CEO compensation, and no evidence that institutional donors do the same. I fail to find any evidence of a gender bias in individual or institutional giving. Overall, my findings suggest that donor sophistication plays a significant role in donor giving, and sophisticated donors act as particularly strong monitors of organizations, reducing agency problems. The final paper is a literature review, coauthored with Julie M. Mercado and Linda M. Parsons. We document trends in nonprofit accounting research during the past two decades, specifically identifying data sources used, research topics investigated, and journals that published this work. Overall, the trends in availability and variety of data bode well for the future of nonprofit accounting research.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Accounting, Donor, Giving, Nonprofit, Philanthropy