Phonathon contributes to annual budget

Phonathon contributes to annual budget

During the spring Phonation, Advancement Assistant Meridith Fell calls alumni and parents of current students to raise money for the annual budget, as well as to update alumni records and increase alumni participation. This was the third Phonathon this year, and another is planned for June.

Brianna Glase, Managing Editor

Junior Sidney Griffin hesitantly walked into the spring Phonathon, nervous about asking strangers for money and worried that they would reject her attempts to ask for donations to the school. She soon found that she was the only student volunteer there, and would be the only student volunteer to help with any of the three days of the April Phonathon.

“I was super nervous at first because I didn’t know what to say to these people, and I felt like a telemarketer, but after a while I started to actually feel comfortable,” Griffin said.

This year’s spring Phonathon took place during the evenings of April 17 to April 19. After three nights of contacting alum after alum, parent after parent, the Office of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations and the parent and alumni volunteer callers raised a total of $8,095.

“I was nervous at first to call the JC alumni because I was afraid they would be rude to me. I felt like it was easier to talk to the people who have given a lot in the previous years because they’d understand that I’m not calling just to annoy them,” Griffin said.

The Phonathon is a fundraiser organized by the Office of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations that usually happens once or twice a year. During this school year, there was a Phonathon in November and another in February in addition to the one this past April. They are planning another one for June.

According to Advancement Associate Lauren Milan, the primary goal of the Phonathon is to raise money for JC’s annual budget, but “we didn’t really set a dollar amount this year,” Milan said.

The callers who contacted the various alumni, alumni parents, and current parents targeted in the Phonathon are all volunteers, but “we’ve been having trouble recruiting volunteers,” Milan said.

“When I first started here, [the Phonathon] consisted of all student callers. There would be 10 to 15 students all in the library making calls. I think that was about three years ago. This year, it was hard recruiting student volunteers. You have to have students with that professional drive,” Milan said.

According to Milan, this year the Office of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations “made a pitch to SAC and asked [Outreach Director] Tony Martin to send it out,” but there wasn’t much interest in volunteering.

“It was different being the only student doing it, but at the same time, I liked it better. So many kids in school judge you for everything you do, and being around adults wasn’t bad because I knew they weren’t judging me because the job had to get done,” Griffin said.

“I think that the reason there was not a big response was because they have never really asked us to do something like this before. Also because I don’t think people feel comfortable asking people they do not know for money,” senior and SAC President Callie Hentz said.

Advancement Assistant Meridith Fell wishes that students would see the benefits that come along with participating in the Phonathon. “We offered this as a service opportunity for current students. In addition to that, you build such an insight for customer service and how to present yourself over the phone,” Fell said.

In an attempt to gain interest, the Office of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations has tried to make the Phonathon more appealing to students and other potential volunteers. “We make it a lot of fun. We give the callers dinner. Sometimes we divide them into teams and they compete to see who can get the most pledges. It’s really casual, laid back. We want our volunteers to be happy,” Fell said.

Griffin thoroughly enjoyed her experience with the Phonathon. “It was such a great experience. The people were so friendly and nice about it. They also gave me snacks while I was doing it…I feel like other students would like it. The time flies and you get service hours while eating and talking on the phone,” Griffin said.

Besides raising money for the annual budget, another goal of the Phonathon is to update alumni records and inform members of the JC community about upcoming events. “We would like to both maintain participation and increase participation [of our alumni],” Milan said.

Milan was pleased with the results of this past Phonathon. “We have donors who have both maintained their level of giving or increased their level of giving. We were very successful with the individuals we have made contact with. There was a very small stack of refusals,” Milan said.

Fell recognizes the factors that go into whether the potential donors give to the budget. “The economic climate has really shaped donors’ pockets,” Fell said.

Even though this Phonathon is over, the work does not stop there. The Office of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations needs to update their reports, keep track of the pledges, and start planning for the next Phonathon. “When you put that much effort into it, you want to see money coming into the school, and you want to see results,” Milan said.

Brianna Glase is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and