4 Factors Affecting Pharmacy Students' University Donations

After the 2008 recession caused a decrease in state funding to public institutions, some pharmacy schools turned their attention to tuition increases and student giving.

After the 2008 recession caused a decrease in state funding to public institutions, some pharmacy schools turned their attention to tuition increases and student giving.

A new study from University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy (UTCOP) researchers reviewed student records for 2013 and 2014 graduates to determine which factors could affect a pharmacy student’s likelihood of giving back to the university.

The authors specifically examined scholarship information, international program participation, senior class gift donations, and post-graduation giving. They also looked at student characteristics, such as age, gender, and race.

Of the 273 graduates, 51.7% were female, 74% were white, and the average age was around 28.

A senior class gift program was initiated at UTCOP in 2013, and while all graduating students were asked to contribute, the giving was voluntary. The students were also not given a minimum or maximum amount for donation.

Here are 4 factors that may increase the chances that a pharmacy student will give back to his or her university:

1. Students who receive scholarships may be more likely to give initially.

The researchers found that students in the Class of 2014 who received scholarships gave higher amounts to the class gift. However, the study did not see a similar association with post-graduation giving.

Around 46% of students had received at least 1 scholarship in their 4 years of pharmacy school, and the average total scholarship amount was around $6700.

2. Students who give to the senior gift are more likely to donate after they graduate.

The researchers found a “significant” association between those who donated to the senior class gift and those who gave post-graduation.

Almost 60% of the students contributed to the class gift, and the average gift amount was $13. Following graduation, around 7% donated back to the school.

3. If students think the education is high-quality, they are more likely to donate.

High-quality programming, positive experiences on campus, and opportunities for engagement have traditionally been associated with increased chances of giving back to the school.

4. Competition between classes may inspire increased donations.

The 2013 class donated a total of $1087, whereas the 2014 class donated $2356.

Considering that the Class of 2014 donated more, the authors suggested that the younger class had “fostered a spirit of competition” with the older class. The Class of 2013 was the first class to have a senior gift, so these students would not have had the same drive.

The researchers also uncovered the 3 most common reasons for not donating to the senior class gift: The students did not have the money to donate due to college and living expenses, they were anticipating paying off their student loans, or they were not compelled to donate after paying tuition.

Another finding from the study was that men in the 2013 class were more likely to donate 1 year after graduation and in higher amounts than women.

The researchers suggested other pharmacy schools could increase student giving by making the student class gift program more ingrained in student tradition.

“Recommendations include implementing student giving programs early in the school year to maximize time for outreach to students, providing programming on the importance of giving and philanthropy, and providing frequent and consistent communication about student giving programs,” the researchers concluded.

To the researchers’ knowledge, this was the first study that assessed student and alumni giving in pharmacy schools.

These study findings were published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education.