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Kendall Hall’s contact center has cubicles and computers for student callers working for admissions. (Photo: Madeleine Miller / Hillsdale Collegian)

 

Hillsdale College administrators have called the new in-house Phonathon method a success. Nov. 15 marked the conclusion of the first college phonathon run without the assistance of an outside fundraising company. Director of the contact center, John Papciak, said the recent phonathon significantly outraised previous phonathons.

“We are around $80,000 better off than we were last year at this time across the board for all three phonathons,” he said.

The exact numbers pertaining to amounts raised will be released upon the end of the Hillsdale College fiscal year next summer.

“We have estimates but we don’t want to be specific just yet,” Papciak said. “The reason we hold off is because many people pay via pledges so we want to have the money in hand before we count it. Oftentime, it’s more than we anticipated.”

Following the college’s opening of the contact center in the fall of 2016, the college has worked towards running the Phonathon without the assistance of an outside company. The college reduced costs by using their own software, hardware, and personnel to run the Phonathon.

In addition to reducing costs, running the Phonathon in-house allowed the college to simplify the training process by using students already working in the contact center.

“We had about 35 to 40 of our student workers work the phonathon,” Assistant Director of the Contact Center Mary Margaret Spiteri said. “It was easy to incorporate our training into what our agents learn all year around. This made it very effortless for them to work the Phonathon.”

Senior student contact center employee Jackson Ventrella said he learned a lot from the experience.

“It was a new experience for me. For the first time we were the ones making the outgoing calls,” Ventrella said. “Overall, I really enjoyed talking to people and getting to know friends of the college.”

In addition to the student Contact Center workers, the college also had parents and athletes make phone calls for their own Phonathon campaigns. Each group targeted a different audience and fundraising area. The athletes volunteered to call alumni to raise money for athletic programs. Parents called previous supporters of the college to support the college endowment. The student Contact Center workers mainly called subscribers of the Hillsdale College newsletter “Imprimis” with the goal of both raising awareness and funds for the college’s Barney Charter School Initiative.

Spiteri said the inclusion of the Barney Charter School Initiative reflects a recent push by the college to expand their influence in education.

“The initiative is trying to raise a substantial amount for their endowment. They want to open 50 schools; they’re at around 16 right now,” Spiteri said. “ Most of the people we called were Imprimis subscribers and had never heard of it before. We were educating them, asking them about their views on public education.”

Spiteri said she believes further information translates to more funds in the long run.

“In the long run if people are asking for more information, eventually they’ll give money. That’s because it’s such a great cause,” Spiteri said.