Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Does Service Matter? an Examination of Donor Perceptions of Service Quality in College Athletics

Academic journal article Sport Marketing Quarterly

Does Service Matter? an Examination of Donor Perceptions of Service Quality in College Athletics

Article excerpt


Service quality has been recognized as a strategic tool for improving organizational performance. Many non-profit organizations have taken a market-based approach to fundraising, which enhances the importance of service excellence. The purpose of this investigation was to examine donor perceptions of service quality in college athletics. First, an adapted version of Sargeant's (2001) non-profit service quality instrument was examined to assess its appropriateness within the context of college athletic donors. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and validity and reliability analyses provided evidence of an adequate model fit. Subsequently, three multiple linear regression models were developed to examine the relationship between service quality and donor satisfaction, donor longevity, and gift amount. The results indicated a significant relationship between service quality and donor satisfaction. However, a direct relationship between service quality and donor behavioral outcomes was not found.


The delivery of high quality service is one of the most important aspects of any service organization (Pride & Ferrell, 2003). The quality of service provided can lead to additional sales and repeat customers. Based on the abstract nature of service characteristics, customers will look for evidence of quality service. This evidence can be found through employees, location, price, and communication material (Kotler & Keller, 2006). In service organizations, the level of quality is the most important factor in customer satisfaction (Zeithaml & Bitner, 2000). Subsequently, measurement and evaluation of customer perceptions of service quality is extremely valuable.

The impact of service perceptions is evident within the non-profit sector. Service quality has been shown to influence donor satisfaction, retention, commitment, and lifetime value (Sargeant, 2001; Sargeant, West, & Ford, 2001; Shiu, Vaughan, & Donnelly, 1997). The importance of understanding the impact of service quality has increased for two reasons. First, the current economic climate has presented new fundraising challenges. According to Giving USA (2009), charitable giving in the Unites States decreased by 5.7% in 2008 (after adjustment for inflation), which is the first decline in contributions since 1987 and one of the steepest declines since 1974. The decrease in fundraising revenue has forced non-profit organizations to do more with limited resources. Second, donors have a variety of options in terms of voluntary support. The number of non-profit organizations registered with the IRS was 1.4 million in 2005, which was a 27.3% increase over a 10-year period (Blackwood, Wing, & Pollack, 2008). Due to increased competition for charitable contributions, non-profit organizations have transitioned to a market-oriented approach to managing the donor/organization relationship (Vaughan & Shiu, 2001). As a result, the value of service quality and donor perceptions of service is apparent within the non-profit sector.

The importance of service quality has been investigated in non-profit organizations (Brady, Noble, Utter, & Smith, 2002; Sargeant, 2001; Vaughan & Shiu, 2001). These studies have examined the nature of services and the impact of perceived service quality on donor behavior. There has also been a wealth of service quality research in sport, including spectator sport (Greenwell, Fink, & Pastore, 2002; McDonald, Sutton, & Milne, 1995; Murray & Howat, 2002), recreational sport (Crompton, MacKay, & Fesenmaier, 1991; Ko & Pastore, 2004, 2005), and sport tourism (Shonk & Chelladurai, 2008). However, service quality research in the area of college athletic fundraising is non-existent. Current athletic departments rely heavily on charitable contributions as a revenue source. Fundraising accounts for approximately 25% of generated revenue for Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions and 27% of generated revenue for Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) institutions, respectively (Fulks, 2009). …

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