Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Committee Chair

Iuliia Shybalkina

Executive Summary

This research study addresses the crucial role of fundraising in sustaining universities in the United States, particularly public institutions facing funding challenges. For this paper, fundraising refers to the seeking of financial support from individuals to support initiatives at a nonprofit entity, such as a public university. It identifies a gap in research and professionalization within higher education philanthropy, emphasizing the need for standardized training and empirical research. The focus is on studying the effectiveness of fundraising events, especially in public universities like the University of Kentucky, amidst declining government support and rising operational costs. The research problem to be addressed by this study is the lack of clear industry best practices for higher education event fundraising. The research design involves surveying and comparing three universities: University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and Western Kentucky University. Findings reveal diverse event approaches, such as donor recognition and gift solicitation. Recommendations include investing in research and training, diversifying event strategies, utilizing data for decision-making, adapting to changing contexts, collaborating internally and externally, and communicating impact. Ultimately, effective utilization of fundraising events and evidence-based strategies is crucial for universities to navigate financial challenges and achieve philanthropic goals.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 01, 2024