Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)


Department of Social Work


Karen A. Ford

Cynthia Hunter

Robert Kolodinsky


College students aren’t oblivious to philanthropy; in fact, many studies report that millennials comprise one of the largest demographics in favor of philanthropic giving. The James Madison University (JMU) campus has recently seen increased student interest in TOMS Shoes, a company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. The aim of this study was to localize where this interest in charity is coming from in a population with little disposable income. Through online surveys collected from thirty-nine TOMS-owning JMU students, this study explored the factors that have led millennials (also referred to as Generation Y) to support TOMS, and furthermore, what led these students to donate their money to charitable organizations. This research is useful to the field of nonprofit studies in that it critically analyzed what is and isn’t effective in the marketing world when targeting college students ranging in age from 18 to 23. This topic is important to social work because by harnessing capitalism and tying it to social causes, this additional consumer motivation makes philanthropic giving more powerful. With this new practice of connecting charitable causes to consumer wants, social workers and those who work in nonprofit management can consider the ways in which their ethical responsibility to be advocates for the less-fortunate can combine with social entrepreneurship to provide a new model with which to solve social problems.



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