Increasingly, colleges and universities use outside companies to manage – and even make – phone calls to their constituents. But at Meredith, students are the backbone of the College’s “phonathon” program. Through their involvement they help raise funds for their school, build relationships with alumnae, and gain valuable hands-on skills and experience.
The students who staff the phonathon said they enjoy their work – they also described it as a powerful growth opportunity.
“I have become much better at talking to people. You really don’t realize how important small talk is until it becomes your job,” said Caroline Williamitis, ’15.
Erin Lawler, ’15, agreed. “While I’ve never really been a shy person, I have learned an appropriate way to speak with individuals on a personal but professional level.”
Amanda Hall, ’15, said she’s acquired valuable fundraising and communication skills. “Calling for phonathon has prepared me to respond to different situations on the spot. Being a supervisor for the last three years, I have also developed leadership skills and learned what it means to work as a team.”
Twenty-eight students regularly call alumnae and friends of the College to tell them about upcoming events, update contact information, and talk with them about The Meredith Fund. Twice a year students call donors simply to say “thank you” for their recent gift. After the thank you call, students send a follow-up card with their picture on it, which adds to the personal nature of the connection.
“One woman spoke to me for almost 30 minutes about being a biology major. She gave me information about getting into the field upon graduation, and encouraged me to contact her if I needed anything,” said Erin. “Conversations like that just reinforce my belief that fellow Angels help each other out.”
Former phonathon director Margo Alfieri, ’11, said alums often express their appreciation for the program. “Alumnae are excited to hear from current students and learn about what is going on at Meredith. They are able to fill out a feedback section on their pledge card – we regularly get nice responses back about how much they enjoyed their conversations with students.”
According to Amanda, the positive interactions she’s had with alumnae affirm her sense of pride in Meredith.
“For me, calling for phonathon is not about asking for money,” said Amanda. “Of course that’s part of the job, but it’s more about the ability to connect with alumnae, reminisce with them about their Meredith experiences, hear about the successes of their lives since graduating, and share the one thing that every Meredith woman has in common: our love for this place.”