The Spring Phonathon

Samantha Mathewson

The Spring semester Phonathon began Sunday, Feb. 8, where 28 University of New Haven students have begun calling alumni for donations.

Student Rachael Mandel reaching out to alumni at the Phonathon (Photo by Samantha Mathewson / Charger Bulletin Photo)
Student Rachael Mandel reaching out to alumni at the Phonathon (Photo by Samantha Mathewson / Charger Bulletin Photo)

The Phonathon spans ten weeks. Students make calls over the course of six three-and-half hour shifts a week. Weekly shifts span from Sunday, 1:30 to 9 p.m. to Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 9 p.m.

The Phonathon requires students to wear headsets that are set up to make the calls automatically. Each student caller is set up to call certain alumni each shift. The Alumni that are called are based on certain categories. Some of the alumni categories include, young alumnus, which are those that graduated in the past five years; golden Chargers, which are alumni that graduated 30 or more years ago; lead society, which are those that have donated five years consecutively – people the university trusts and gives back to in return in the form of gifts such as football tickets or play tickets; the President’s society, which are donors that give larger amounts of money; second gifts, which are donors that gave the previous semester, and soft refusals, which is a group alumni that said they wanted to give in the spring and not the fall.

If student callers reach a prospective donors voicemail, a message is not left, and instead the cycle of calls continues to the next call, and that alumni is kept in the pool to be called at another time.
The Phonathon has been running for many years at UNH, and expanded during the 2014 Spring semester when the university hired RuffaloCODY, which is a company that organizes calling records in order to track and predict donations for the semester. The RuffaloCODY software also organizes how alumni should be grouped and contacted properly. With this company, Manager Seth Newman is present at every phone calling session.

Along with Newman, one of three student supervisors is present during each calling session. This semester’s student supervisors are Sadie Redman, Olivia Burglund, and Elizabeth Cantelmo.

“I have met a lot of really cool alumni that surprisingly want to help in any way possible that they can, even though they haven’t personally met me,” said Redman, who has been working for the Phonathon for six semesters. Redman started as a student caller for two years before becoming a supervisor.

Redman explained a normal night during the Phonathon consists of students sitting down at their respective stations, where they will then have a group meeting to discuss calls, any issues and how to communicate with alumni. Then, students login, put their headsets on, and start calling.

Redman also explained that on any given night students attempt to call between 100 and 150 people, but realistically only get in touch with roughly three or five each night.

When alumni are contacted and choose to donate or refuse, they are taken out of the pool for that semester. Newman tracks how often certain groups are called, and from that decides what groups to call each night so that student callers aren’t trying to reach certain groups too often.

The goal for this year’s Phonathon is approximately $250,000. This includes roughly 3,600 pledges and $80,000 in credit card donations.

Pledges are different from credit card donations in that when a credit card is used, the donation is made directly to the school; however, with pledges a form is mailed to the prospective donors and relies on them sending their gifts back.

This year’s Spring semester Phonathon will end April 26.