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Alumni News

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2016 - 3:40 PM Alumni

Our Student Phonathon Team: Connecting Alumni and Undergraduates

  • Callers Emma Thomas and John Allen

“Attitude is everything,” reads the sign. The Student Phonathon callers at Western New England University are reminded of this adage every time they look at this message on the wall. But there’s no need for an attitude adjustment for this crew. They have the right stuff. The 20 callers really believe in what they are raising money for, and their sincerity shows in every call.

“It is really satisfying to be able to raise money to help my fellow students,” says Emma Thomas, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major. “I myself am one of the 70% of students on campus who receive some sort of financial aid, so I understand the importance of the money raised and I am extremely thankful each time I receive a pledge.”

Indeed, caller John Allen, also a sophomore pre-pharmacy major, says that is a special feeling “to have an impact on the University I attend, since I am directly affected by the success of our project.” But self-interest isn’t the only reason for their success. Allen also mentions a wonderful working environment in which everyone gets along well. “Although we call alumni individually, we really feed off the energy that each of us bring to work every day,” he says.

That energy is especially palpable when a caller gets a large pledge and is congratulated by fellow callers. For Thomas, her most memorable call was a pledge for $1,000. But it didn’t end there. “After that, I found out that he had called our office and told our coordinator that his company would match any donation he made,” she says. “However, he didn’t meet the deadline for his company to be able to match, so he went ahead and donated again, and his company made a matching gift. We ultimately raised $3,000 from his two gifts and his company’s match.”

Still, the callers stress that gifts of any size—large or small—directly impact our students. “Just the other day I had an alumnus pledge $25,” says Thomas. “He apologized that he would not be able to give more. I explained to him how his money could buy a book, or purchase a computer part, and that even though his gift was small it would make a difference.”

In fact, small donations have a value beyond their dollar figure, because increasing the University’s participation rate helps secure grants from corporations, foundations and the federal government.

Allen values the alumni he calls not just for their gifts, but also their friendliness. “I have a lot of great conversations with alumni who have walked the same grounds I do, and have taken the same classes in the same building and same professor,” he says. “Those alumni tend to give the best advice when it comes to academics, relaxing, and even life after college.”

Phonathon Coordinator Diane Swanson says what makes her callers so successful “is their ability to really connect with alumni. We have a truly incredible group here.”

Sir Walter Scott once said, “For success, attitude is equally important as ability.” Fortunately for the University, our Phonathon callers have bring both qualities to the job.