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Stakeholder status in the identification, prioritization and management of college athletic donors

Matt R. Huml (University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)
Alicia M. Cintron (University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 11 May 2021

Issue publication date: 20 July 2021



The purpose of this study is to examine how athletic fundraising managers perceive status and seek to use status to identify, prioritize and manage stakeholders within college athletics.


To test this purpose, the researchers use the Gioia methodology to interview 19 college athletic department fundraising officers within National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) institutions. Following interviews, the data were analyzed by the researchers and structured within a first-order and second-order concept designation.


Interviews show that status is an effective concept for explaining how athletic fundraisers identify and prioritize donors. Officers relied on economic (capacity) and social (passion and interest) factors to rank order donors. The results also show that athletic departments use status to manage stakeholders by rewarding their giving and escalating their commitment. Status is used in four strategies to manage the donor hierarchy: benefits, recognition, membership and access. Each strategy highlighted exclusivity and rank order.


There is a need to empirically test the application of status within the stakeholder theory context. These findings also contribute to the evolution of stakeholder management beyond the use of social identity theory or stakeholder salience. It helps our understanding of the evolving relationship between fundraiser and donor by recognizing the importance of capacity, passion and interests when identifying and prioritizing donors. Further, status-markers such as exclusive benefits, recognition, membership and access can be used to manage donors toward the organization's goals.



The authors want to thank Chris McLeod for his assistance with our research idea and implementation for this project.


Huml, M.R. and Cintron, A.M. (2021), "Stakeholder status in the identification, prioritization and management of college athletic donors", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 451-471.



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