Phonathon brings in donations, stories from alumni


Thomas Streeter

Lauren Philie

This year’s annual fundraising phone-a-thon is still underway and as of presstime has raised about $5500.

The phone-a-thon happens for five weeks from the beginning of November to Dec. 13. During this period, six or seven student callers contact alumni to find out how their life has been since they graduated college and request a donation.

“What we do is we hire student callers that come in and we give them all the training and the materials and a specific script,” said Lauren Philie, NVU-Johnson director of development and alumni relations, who noted that alumni are not contacted unless they have given their permission.
The student callers contact alumni and refer to a call sheet so that they can confirm all of their relevant information, like their graduation year and their degree.

“Their goals are to update their contact information; so, to make sure that we get the right email for them, that we are reaching them at the right phone number, that they have not moved; we get their physical address updated,” said Philie.

“Then we ask for their news. We want to know: Did they you get a new job? Did they have a baby? Did they get married? Are they volunteering in any organizations? Have they won any awards? Things like that. That way we can write about their news for our Johnson Views magazine, and people really like to hear about what their classmates have been doing. We publish that news, with their permission, in our magazine.”

Second-to-last in the process is asking for a donation from alumni.

“First-time alumni donators have the choice of whether or not they wish to donate $20,” Philie said. “Otherwise we make the ask based on what they have given in the past.”

Seniors Sara Ford and Emily Cass have found participation in the phone-a-thon rewarding.
“We have started calling more recent alums this time around, and I was able to talk to a woman who graduated a year or two before I started here. We were able to have a great conversation about Professor Paul Silver and Dr. Plazek,” Ford said. “We were able to compare notes. We have taken a lot of the same classes with a lot of the same people, so that was a great experience. As [a] Secondary Ed. student, I was able to connect with education majors from whenever they graduated from here. I really like that part, being able to connect to people, either the recent alums or those who graduated before I was born because you get to hear a lot of stories about what campus was like back then.”

Cass has been working the phone-a-thon for four weeks. “The best experience has definitely been connecting with alumni…just talking about their experiences at Johnson and what they are doing with their life,” Cass said.

“One woman I spoke with, she’s retired now, and she just got back from visiting Italy and she has just been traveling everywhere,” Cass said. “It is really great to have conversations with alums about their time here and what they have enjoyed from Johnson and talking about things that I have enjoyed here and sharing that with them. I guess the worst part is when you call an alum and the do not really want to talk to you and they answer your questions but there is no joy in their voice.”