||Fall Phonathon reminds alumni that there are "One Million Reasons to Give" this year
RELEASED: November 12, 2009
By Leigh Ivey
DANVILLE, KY—This September, Centre College alumni were issued a challenge.
If the College can raise $250,000 in new alumni giving to The Centre Fund before June 30, 2010, an anonymous donor will contribute $750,000 to the College.
The challenge, known as "One Million Reasons to Give," was created at the beginning of the fall Phonathon, an annual event that recently came to a close.
While talking with alums, the student callers were sure to explain the stipulation of the challenge: the $250,000 must come from new or increased gifts.
"For example," explains Shawn Lyons '81, associate vice president for development and alumni affairs, "if someone last year gave a $1,000 gift and this year gives $1,200, the $200 difference will be what counts toward the $250,000 we need to raise to meet the challenge."
For those who did not give last year, their entire contribution will count toward the $250,000.
"By the end of October, we had raised a little more than $150,000, so we’re well on track and expect to reach the goal in the spring," says James Barnard, assistant director of annual giving.
The $150,000 raised for the challenge is part of the $339,120 that was raised overall during the fall event.
"This is a significant increase from both of the last two years," says James Barnard, assistant director of annual giving. "We took pledges from 2,762 people, 2,282 of which were alumni. The others were parents and other friends of Centre."
This fall, there was also an increase in the average gift (up to $123 from $117 in fall 2008) and in the College's conversion rate, the number of pledges received compared to the number of alumni that Phonathon callers spoke with.
This year's conversion rate was 57 percent, a nine percent increase from the past two years.
"Our callers were a fantastic group this year, and the credit goes to them," Barnard says. "They were up against a tough challenge with the economic situation at the moment. We had to streamline Phonathon to save some money, as well, and through all this, they managed to get better results than ever before."
Clinton, Tenn., native Molly Jernigan '10 says these results were made possible by "the energy James brought in the call room every night. Going to work was always fun, and I looked forward to it every time."
Joshua Blair '11 of Berea, Ky., also enjoyed working as a student caller.
"My favorite part is just speaking with alums," he says. "Hearing stories about life after Centre really confirms my college choice. When I hear that someone who took a CentreTerm class I'm thinking about taking (Geographic Information Systems and the Environment with Dr. Nyerges) uses GIS frequently in his job, it lets me know that courses at Centre will prepare me for life after graduation."
One of the other issues discussed during phone calls was the "One Million Reasons to Give" challenge.
"The callers really enjoyed telling alumni about the challenge," Barnard says. "It's likely the reason for our increased average gift and also for the amount of gifts we received from people who didn't give last year."
And despite the challenges that the current economic situation has created, Barnard says he is not surprised that the College's alumni have remained faithful.
Centre has often been recognized for the remarkable percentage of alumni who give back to the College. During the past 26 years, Centre's alumni have led the nation in their rate of annual giving.
For 16 of these 26 years, Centre held the No. 1 national ranking in annual alumni-giving percentage, a title it hopes to regain this year.
"Centre’s alumni have a long tradition of being loyal and supporting the College and showing great strength in even the toughest times," Barnard says. "Our callers brought out the best in them."
Although there are many theories about why Centre alums continue to be so dedicated in giving back to their alma mater, he believes that "it comes down to the 'Centre Experience' they receive while on campus. The personal relationship with professors, the quality of education and the overall experience of living on campus and being part of our community is something that stays with our alumni forever."
"I think Centre alumni are consistently loyal because the College provides experiences for students that aren't just academic," he says. "Thinking of my own experience here, I know that my commitment to service is because of Patrick Noltemeyer (associate dean and director of community service and Bonner Program), the shows that come to the Norton Center have broadened my knowledge and experience of the arts, and the late-night conversations with other students on Old Centre lawn have shown me that I can be philosophical on a Saturday night."
"The next step is revisiting the people who said they'd like to give later in the year," Barnard says. "Many people want to contribute but want to do so in the spring, so we look forward to connecting with them in the new year. Hopefully the spring campaign will get us well on our way to our goal of 60 percent participation from our alumni. That would give us a good shot of being number one again in the country for alumni participation."
To make a gift to The Centre Fund, click here.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
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Danville, KY 40422
"My favorite part is just
speaking with alums. Hearing
stories about life after Centre
really confirms my college choice.
When I hear that someone who
took a CentreTerm class I'm
thinking about taking (Geographic
Information Systems and the
Environment with Dr. Nyerges)
uses GIS frequently in his job, it
lets me know that courses at
Centre will prepare me for life
- Josh Blair ’11
"The callers really enjoyed telling
alumni about the challenge. It's
likely the reason for our increased
average gift and also for the amount
of gifts we received from people who
didn't give last year."
-James Barnard, assistant director of annual giving