Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Philanthropic support of higher education is a growing area of interest among academic fundraisers and philanthropy scholars. The academic fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), in particular, are in need of a better understanding of their major donors. This article analyzes a unique database of announced gifts to higher education institutions from 1995 to 2017 to investigate relationships between major donors’ characteristics and the magnitude of their gifts to STEM and all other academic disciplines. Major donors to STEM are disproportionately entrepreneurs who, on average, give larger gifts to STEM than other major donors. Quantile regressions reveal a positive and statistically significant relationship between major donors’ entrepreneurial status and gift amounts at the 99th quantile (worth US$100 million or more). As major funding sources for academic STEM are increasingly threatened, these findings are pertinent to academic institutions seeking to leverage major donors as an alternative source of funding.