Organizational identification and giving behaviors among distance learning alumni at a major Southeastern public university
With the number of alumni of distance programs increasing, and the decline of public funding for higher education continuing, overlooking engaging these constituents both as active members within the alumni community and as donors will likely be progressively detrimental to institutions as time progresses. The purpose of this study was to investigate how alumni of distance programs at a public flagship university behave with regards to organizational identity and the supportive behaviors of promotion and financial giving to the institution. The study examined the role of the elements of perceived institutional prestige and satisfaction in influencing organizational identity in the population of distance alumni. Also, the study explored the potential effect of demographic factors on the organizational identity of distance alumni. This study employed both survey research methods and utilized institutional data housed within the Office of Advancement to answer the research questions. The overarching finding of this study is that distance alumni do have significant organizational identity to the institution with similar results to previous research conducted with traditional alumni. The supportive behaviors of financial giving and promoting the institution are influenced by the organizational identity of distance alumni. Additionally, the elements of institutional prestige and satisfaction are influencing factors on organizational identity of distance alumni. Other elements, including age, college of graduation, level of degree, and holding multiple degrees from the institution, were found to impact levels of organizational identity in distance alumni. Findings suggest the institution could benefit from devoting strategic resources to developing exceptional distance degree programs for current students, while also exploring facilitating meaningful engagement and community for both current distance students and alumni of distance programs in order to raise organizational identity in the distance population. Additionally, soliciting distance alumni with appropriate giving initiatives could reduce the number of non-donors.