Phonathon has students make the calls.
The Phonathon is a calling program where students communicate with alumni to ask for donations to the Mercyhurst annual fund and get updates on their professional lives so the school can keep in touch with them.
The program is overseen by the offices of Institutional Advancement and they meet at the Center for Academic Engagement. There are currently about 30 Phonathon callers a team of both undergraduate and graduate students.
Lindsay Cox, a Mercyhurst alumna and current Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, organizes the Phonathon.
“Students get a chance to get on the phone and speak directly to people who have gone to school here, have some interest in Mercyhurst, who know about the place and are interested with speaking with students,” Cox said.
The Phonathon raises money for the Mercyhurst annual fund. Phonathon is one of the vehicles the university uses to reach its annual fund goal, which is $410,000 this year. The alumni participation goal, which is how many alumni are expected to donate to the university, is currently at 20 percent.
The money earned from the annual fund is used in the university’s operation budget. Everything that is seen on campus, including landscape, athletics and scholarship money, can be funded by the annual operation budget, according to Cox.
“It’s more of the everyday things you probably don’t think about, mowing and all those other things,” Cox said.
During the call, students read a prepared script while adding their own personal information to ask for donations.
The Phonation serves as an institutional employment opportunity, where students get paid $8 an hour. After working for one full year, students are eligible for a raise.
The hiring process is done at the beginning of every semester, which includes a training session for students to learn the process and the goals for the semester.
“It’s a good job to have, they make their own schedule. It’s a really flexible job and it’s easy to get on campus and they don’t have to drive out of campus,” said Cox. They are on the phone connecting with alumni and people who really love Mercyhurst and want to know what is going on.”
Tamara Walters, the director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at Mercyhurst, said working at the Phonathon gives students a chance to see where their education can take them.
They get to talk to alumni from all over the country and have the chance to learn about what these alumni did with their careers. She thinks this is also a great way for students to see how important donor support is and teaching students about philanthropy.
“Students are actively contributing to growing our campus; they are getting the donations that we need to continue to grow and offer new programs, and do everything that we are doing. It’s very impactful,” said Walters.
“It’s very rewarding when students start to understand what they are doing and that it is powerful.”