Students driving force during Phonathon

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Each semester more than 30 Pacific students raise much needed funds through Phonathon.  The event involves students contacting alumni, parents and friends of the university to ask for donations.

The fall portion of the nine-week phonathon event began late in September. Between Sunday and Thursday, 15 callers work each night to raise funds with the assistance of an intern and four coordinators, all of which are students.

Assistant Director of Annual Giving Meredith Brynteson said callers are trained to carefully listen to the donor’s intent for the money they are pledging to ensure the their wishes are granted.

As a way of helping callers better connect with potential donors, student callers are matched with prospective donors based on similar interests, hometowns, or people who they might know, such as their parents or family friends.

When a student caller procures a pledge, they ring a bell that is located on their desk, inciting a cheer from the group.

“We are trying to help the school that is going to help us,” said the student intern Malia Purdy.

Students earn normal wages and work-study funds through working for the event and in addition to $10 an hour pay, callers have the opportunity to earn incentives, prizes, candy and t-shirts that support the event.  Last spring’s t-shirt proclaimed,  “I called your mom last night and she donated.”

Purdy said that students involved in Phonathon get the chance to meet people from all different majors and get the chance to talk to alumni who give insight to what the school used to be like.

After the first week of calling, the event is completely student driven.  Brynteson says that she shows up to the event for a few minutes each night in case there are questions, but other than her brief appearance, the rest of the evening is run by the students making the calls, the student intern, and the student coordinators.

Brynteson said the goal for this semester is to raise $57,500 and to have 20 percent of the people they talk to donate.

According to Purdy, the group met their monetary goal with approximately 14 calling nights left in the semester.

Last year, students raised $113,630 in pledges. This year, the goal is to raise $115,000 over the entire year.

Funds earned through Phonathon will go to the areas of greatest need for the university, or to any specific program or initiative the donor wishes to support. The President’s Cabinet and the Board of Trustees along with the Business Office determine what that greatest area of need is and the funds are distributed as seen fit.

Donations not specified for a particular cause are used to fund scholarships, enhance the university endowment or other areas as determined by the board and cabinet.

Donors, who wish to donate to specific areas, and wish the funds to enhance a specific area rather than being “budget relieving”, can donate to the Excellence Fund of one of the university’s four colleges (Arts and Sciences, Education, Optometry, or Health Professions).  The Excellence Fund is a way to enhance the program by specifying that the money is meant to add onto the existing budget, therefore giving that program a larger budget.

In addition, donors can donate in memory or honor of a loved one.

The fall of Phonathon concludes later this month.


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