Experience and enlightenment: “Customer-oriented” nine-stage major gifts management model of world-class U.S. universities

  • Chenghua Lin Zhejiang University, China
  • Yanjie Xie Zhejiang University, China
  • Ruixue Xu Zhejiang University, China
Keywords: major gifts, customer orientation, demand management, value creation, management model


Since the 1990s, “customer orientation” marketing has been widely applied to major gifts management of world-class U.S. universities, forming a donor-centered model for major gifts management. It focuses on donor demands management, relationship cultivation and value creation, which has a major effect on university fundraising and development. Through literature review and case study of the University of Pittsburgh, this study analyzes the major gifts management model of world-class U.S. universities in terms of theory, structure, operation model, and development characteristics. The findings show that there are two important characteristics of the organizational structure of major gifts management in the United States: one is the donation market segmentation and the donor classification management; the other is the refinement of donation management functions. And this paper proposes a nine-stage major gifts management model of world-class U.S. universities, which contains “Definition-Identification- Qualification-Development of Strategy-Cultivation-Solicitation-Negotiation-Acknowledgment -Stewardship.” Finally, this paper summarizes the development trend of major gifts management: emphasizing donor’s value creation, donor internalization and capitalization, cultivating prospective donors from national to international, moving towards integration of leading capacity building and donor orientation.

Received: 08 April 2019
Accepted: 05 November 2019
Published online: 29 November 2019


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Author Biographies

Chenghua Lin, Zhejiang University, China

Associate Professor, Doctoral Supervisor, and Deputy Director of Institute of Technology Innovation and Management, Research Institute of China’s Science, Technology and Education Policy, School of Public Affairs, Zhejiang University, China. His research area is university fundraising and endowment investment, higher education development strategy, and science and technology innovation management. He has participated in the design of the 120-year grand fundraising project of Zhejiang University and the five-year fundraising strategic action plan. He also participated in the fundraising action plan of the new campus of Lake University and the global fundraising project planning of Yuelu Academy of Hunan University in China. Mail: chlin@zju.edu.cn

Yanjie Xie, Zhejiang University, China

PhD student in School of Public Affairs in Zhejiang University, China. Her research interests focus on innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education and higher education development strategy. Mail: xieyanjie94@163.com

Ruixue Xu, Zhejiang University, China

Master student in School of Public Affairs in Zhejiang University, China. Her research interests focus on higher education development strategy. Mail: 954015186@qq.com


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How to Cite
Lin, Chenghua, Yanjie Xie, and Ruixue Xu. 2019. “Experience and Enlightenment: ‘Customer-oriented’ Nine-Stage Major Gifts Management Model of World-Class U.S. Universities”. Tuning Journal for Higher Education 7 (1), 33-65. https://doi.org/10.18543/tjhe-7(1)-2019pp33-65.