Smile when you dial: It’s fall Phonathon time
September 9, 2010 By Abby Malik
a “Centre Phonathon” cake made by Allison Barnard, the wife of
James Barnard, assistant director of annual giving. Back row,
left to right: Mariellen Boyle ’11, Christina Tammen ’11, Allen
Schagene ’12, Laura Thudium ’13, Olivia Orrender ’13. Front row,
left to right: Katie Lentz ’11, Amy Dorsch ’11, Kristen Dorsch ’11,
Roxy Lewis ’11.
Just like alumni coming back for Homecoming celebrations and new students running The Flame, there’s another Centre College tradition that can always be counted on: the beginning of the annual fall Phonathon. This week more than 30 current Centre students take to the phones through the end of October, with a goal of raising more than $350,000 from at least 2,800 donors.
Roxy Lewis ’11 has been a Phonathon caller all four years of her Centre career. She’s the longest-serving shift leader and will probably hit the $100,000-raised mark this term. As a shift leader, Lewis is in charge of running Phonathon teams when a development staff member isn’t able to be there.
“Working for Phonathon is a great way to meet other students on campus as well as networking with alumni,” Lewis says. “They’re always so interested in talking to you and helping with your Centre experience.”
An international studies major with a political economy minor, Lewis says that Phonathon is a fun work environment, and it's also great for her future.
“It shows that you can handle working and class and all the other extra activities Centre students do,” she explains.
What’s Lewis’ advice for new Phonathon participants? Two things:
“New Phonathon callers need to remember to take it easy and that alums are excited to talk to you,” she says. “I love calling the Centre alums because they're always nice and eager to talk to you.”
Cortney Miller ’11 is another veteran caller, having raised nearly $70,000 and securing more than 600 pledges since she began working the phones during her first semester on campus.
A double major in Spanish and art history, Miller got involved because it's a great way to meet other students and network with alumni.
“It's a fun work atmosphere and it’s given me great practice in conversation and communication skills,” she says.
“I started doing Phonathon for fun,” Miller continues, “but it didn't take long to see the skills I was gaining would be very useful in whatever career path I chose. And I've met some great friends, which only adds to the fun.”
Miller’s advice for new Phonathon callers: “Be enthusiastic! If you’re excited about Centre and the Centre Fund, the alum you’re calling can hear that. It’s contagious. Your passion for Centre will remind them of their great Centre experience and will make for a great conversation (and, usually, a gift!).”
She adds: “There’s nothing like the feeling of having a great conversation with an alum who loves Centre. They tell me some of their favorite memories and ask questions about what's new around campus, and we really make a connection. That’s definitely the best part: hearing from alums who had a great four years at Centre and then went on to be successful and do all kinds of interesting things.”
Laura Hansen ’12 became a shift leader this term, having been involved in phoning alums since the beginning of her first term at Centre.
For Hansen, a French major and psychology minor, getting involved in Phonathon is a way of improving skills she finds necessary for future success and improving her résumé.
“I wanted to improve my people skills, especially speaking on the phone in a more professional way,” she explains. “I always wanted to be involved with an organization on campus in which I could meet a variety of people.”
However, she adds: “I ended up having a great time doing it. I also made many friends with whom I remain close.”
Hansen’s advice to new callers?
“Own the conversation,” she says. “If you sound confident and self-assured, then people are more likely to trust you with their money. Also, never say ‘donation’—it’s a gift!”
For Hansen, the best part about her job is when she really connects with an alum, knowing she’s made them interested in Centre once again.
Erin Jansen ’12, a history and classics double major, is beginning her second year of Phonathon.
“I got involved because everyone I talked to said it was a lot of fun and a great way to make some money while talking to Centre grads who love the school as much as I do,” Jansen says. “It’s always great to hear or see an alum who had the same majors and experiences I did and be able to connect with them and see where their path took them.”
Her favorite part of being involved in Phonation is spending time with the other callers (and James Barnard, Centre assistant director of annual giving), “as well as talking to alums who are thrilled to hear how Centre is doing and interested in my life as a Centre student!”
And Jansen’s tip for new callers is perhaps the most important:
“Smile when you dial!” she says. “Always make sure to answer with a smile on your face, it lightens the mood and you're more likely to grab the person's attention so they talk to you longer!”