Phonathon donations top $12k

Becky Husky

With roughly 12,000 phone calls left to make, the 26th annual Missouri Southern Foundation Phonathon is nearing the end of its first month of the season.

“To date, our student callers have raised a little over $6,000,” said Curt Betebenner, director of the Foundation, at the beginning of the event’s third week. “The total in the door right now is $12,752. Of that, $6,533 has come from gifts from faculty and staff.”

Each year, the Foundation hires student workers to conduct the Phonathon. Students contact Southern’s alumni and local businesses. Before calls are made, those on the call list are sent postcards and letters notifying them of the event.

According to Betebenner, the Phonathon is expected to net between $85,000 and $95,000.

“The Phonathon is somewhere between 5 percent to 10 percent of what we do every year,” he said.

Money raised will go to such things as scholarships, renovation projects, equipment for the health sciences building, and the recreation center.

But, Betebenner says, it’s not just about the money.

“The best part about it is our graduates get to talk to somebody on campus and get an update and feel good about Missouri Southern when they hang up,” he said. “That’s what this is really about, maintaining contact with our alums.”

When making calls, students are encouraged to build rapport with alumni and to get to know them as more than just a phone number.

“The ones who go straight for the money are not nearly as successful as the ones

who just call and have a good conversation,” Betebenner said.

The student workers seem to agree.

“The best thing is getting to talk to old alumni. They love to talk to students from Missouri Southern,” said Hannah Hamill, sophomore mass communication major, one of this year’s 25 workers. “They’ll talk to you about all their experiences.”

For Linda Robinson, freshman sociology major, the calls also help to keep her optimistic about her degree.

“It’s kinda neat seeing where people are. They’ve got some good jobs as a result [of Missouri Southern],” she said. “It makes you think college pays off.”

According to Betebenner, the biggest donations to Southern come from individuals, such as those contacted during the Phonathon. Businesses come in second.

“Your affiliation with the University never stops,” he said. “Even after the tuition stops, your affiliation with the University doesn’t.”