- It was a typical work night for freshman Environment Science major Kaitlin Flynn of West Hartford, CT, a student caller for Connection Center operated by The FUND at the University of Maine.
“It’s my second semester working here,” Flynn said “This is a good opportunity to get work experience, help the university, and I really enjoy talking to alumni. Pledges and credit card gifts can range from anywhere from $19.89 in honor of a person’s graduation year to as much as $1,000 or a given night. Of course, some nights are better than others.” Flynn has generated over $8,400 and 112 pledges, making her one of the programs top callers.
Funds raised during the sessions are used to help with department, college and university wide needs such scholarships, technology upgrades, student travel to conferences, laboratory equipment, textbooks for students in need, and activities.
“This program is definitely moving in the right direction when you consider that it is the first real comprehensive tele-fundraising effort by the university,” said Ullysses Tucker, Jr., Director of Annual Giving at UMaine. “I have a wonderful group of callers; plenty of energy in the room on a nightly basis and in many ways they serve as ambassadors for our institution because they are the first real contact with many of our graduates in years. It’s great listening to the conversations as the proud past connects with the bright future.”
The students also update demographic information, spread the word about campus events and activities, and more importantly, secure support to offset diminishing funds from the state. In only fourteen weeks of calling (the program runs from September-April when classes are in session), the students have generated nearly $160,000 ($41, 000 in credit cards gifts) and over 2500 pledges.
While Flynn is excited about obtaining donations, she takes a practical approach to her work.
“This job experience has definitely helped me academically and socially,” she said. “I’ve learned to talk with a variety of people, and now when I have to make a presentation for class or when I graduate and have to be in front of people, I will have more confidence in my speaking ability and communication skills.
“I’ve also learned how important support is to UMaine,” Flynn added. It’s encouraging to talk with people who have been through the same thing, and who now are in a position to – and want to – give back. Someday, I hope to be able to do that myself and help students.”News