Earning cash by raising funds

by Stacey MagnesonStaff Writer

Each semester, Simpson holds the Phonathon, a six-week program to help raise money for the Simpson Fund. The fund’s purpose is to provide monetary aid for students, either in the form of financial assistance or scholarships. Participants place calls to alumni, friends and parents up to five days a week.

Tricia Martin, assistant director of alumni relations and annual giving, is in her first year as coordinator for the Phonathon. Martin is a 2001 Simpson graduate who worked on the Phonathon for two years when she was a student. Martin believes she knows how to help handle the Phonathon because she literally has been in the students’ chairs during her college career.

According to Martin, last year around $160,000 was raised for the Simpson fund with $100,000 raised in the fall and $60,000 in the spring. The funds will go towards the 2007-2008 fiscal years, which run June 1 to May 31.

Melissa Walpole, associate director of annual giving, says the Phonathon not only raises funds, but helps connect past and present students.

“The Phonathon is an important program here on campus because it raises money for The Simpson Fund and this fund supports a variety of college programs, including scholarship assistance and additional resources for students and faculty,” Walpole said. “The Phonathon gives our students the opportunity to network with our alumni, share news and stories and raise money for their Simpson education. Our student callers train hard, work hard and have fun. They do a great job.”

The Phonathon is held in the Red and Gold Room in College Hall. Student callers, who can work anywhere between one and five days a week, earn $7.25 an hour. Calls are placed from 6 to 9 p.m. with no calls on the holidays. Those who work with student employees believe the freedom in work scheduling is appealing to many who participate.

“The Phonathon is a very flexible job,” Martin said. “Students can work the hours they want to work. Students who aren’t eligible for a work study job can work the Phonathon.”

During the spring semester, the Phonathon starts on February 11 and goes until March 31. In the fall, the event runs from mid-September until October 31. A full room of callers consists of 16 phones going at the same time. Last fall, there were around 38 callers. This spring, 50 students signed up for the Phonathon. The increase in participants for the spring is attributed to a number of factors.

“Students have more free time during the second semester,” Martin said. “Freshman are also more apt to helping out more the second time around after having helped during the fall.”

Students who work for the Phonathon also help update alumni information. If a past graduate has gotten a new job, gotten married or had a child, the Phonathon allows Simpson to get that information for use in “Simpson Magazine” as well as for Homecoming and young alumni events.

Martin has six student helpers who work as supervisors for the phonathon, seniors Emily Salberg, Liz Tjaden, Lucas Iburg, Rachelle Woodley and Dawn Wolfe. Junior Kelly Zegers works as the underclassman supervisor.

“The supervisors are a great help to me,” Martin said. “They not only help out the student callers but they do data entry and summary reports for me which is a big help.”

As a supervisor, Salberg finds the experience to be beneficial in the long run.

“I think Phonathon is a good opportunity for students to find an on-campus job that pays a good hourly salary and a chance to converse with alumni about their Simpson Experience,” Salberg said. “It’s also a good job to put on a resume because any sales experience looks good to an employer. Phonathon is a great way for Simpson to make money for the Simpson fund which helps fund many things like scholarships for students to be able to afford the tuition here at Simpson.”