PHONATHON FUN FACTS $352,086 8,813 given to Annual Fund through phonathon
number of calls completed
$4.9M $20,511 total given to Annual Fund
pledged by alumni who didn’t graduate from Reed
6 minutes 48 minutes average talk time
longest call on record
students on the crew
pledged by econ majors
pledged by English majors
(all stats from FY 2017-18.)
“I see it as getting to talk to interesting people from many walks of life and connecting over the amazing place that is Reed.” A history major with an outgoing personality, she takes pride in her job, especially given the fact that she could not have come to Reed without the help of the Annual Fund. A native of Corrientes, Argentina, she dreamed of attending college in the United States but her family couldn’t afford to pay. Most American colleges and universities don’t award financial aid to international students, but thanks to the generosity of donors to the Annual Fund, Reed is among the few that do.
Working for the phonathon allows her the opportunity to give back to the college and also share her own story with donors. “It helps to be able to talk about your own experiences,” she says. “It gives them a chance to see that by giving, they help provide students a great education and a great environment.” Alex credits her success to an engaging personality and exceptional work ethic. “Lara cares immensely and is always extremely prepared,” he says. “She is a great ambassador for Reed.” Asking for money can be challenging, but Alex has worked to enhance the professionalism of the operation, while also making
the job more fun. Students have decorated the space with art—cardboard leaves dangle from the ceiling, a paper dragon breathes fire from one wall. Posters feature the strangest excuses they’ve gotten for ending a call (e.g., “My wife’s giving birth!”) and the most offbeat email usernames they’ve heard (hamsterwrangler, veganchili). The vibe belies the importance of the phonathon, as well as its complexity. On any given shift, callers attempt thousands of calls, though only a fraction lead to actual interactions. Last year the phonathon generated nearly $352,086 from roughly 1,800 donors, a crucial chunk of the $4.9 million raised by the Annual Fund. This year the goal is $400,000 and 2,200 donors. They’re off to a promising start—in September alone, the phonathon raised $153,000. While Alex provides tips on making “the ask” or handling rejection, the operation is as much about heart as it is science. More than anything, he says, he wants the students to make genuine connections with the people they call—a dynamic that results in a win-win for everyone, regardless of the outcome. Although, of course, he would prefer that the phone conversations end with a generous donation, too. “It’s not just about money,” he says. “It’s really about engaging with someone else who loves Reed. Ultimately you want to have a conversation that makes the case for why it’s important to give back.” So when you hear the phone ring, take a moment to answer the call—you may be surprised to find a kindred spirit on the line.
december 2018 Reed Magazine 13