Funds raised through annual Phonathon


Terri-Lynn Frasher/The Chart

Dallas White a freshman criminal justice major, man’s his phone station at the annual phonathon fundraising event University, held in Billingsly Student Center on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014.

Brad Stout, Managing Editor

The annual phonathon, which serves as the main fundraising event for the Southern Annual Fund, is in full swing as student volunteers work to make contact with Southern alumni and other potential donors who may provide support for the University through the ongoing fundraising effort. Organized by the Missouri Southern Development Office — which originally created the fundraiser over 30 years ago — the phonathon began Feb. 15 and will continue until Feb. 27.

“The phonathon’s been a piece of our fundraising effort for a long time now,” said JoAnn Graffram, vice president of development and director of the Missouri Southern Foundation. “They [the founders] would have started it then for the same reasons that we still use it today — to support the students, to bring funds to the University that can help the students, and to do things we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. It’s always about providing more opportunities to the students.”

The financial goal for this year’s phonathon is $75,000. As of press time, the event has raised $16,000.

“We’re off to a great start with the Phonathon,” said Elisa Bryant, development officer. “We start by calling people who are new donors and slowly add calls to alumni and friends who have a history of giving. In the first four days of calling we have added 83 new donors and raised $16,000. The funds raised will grow steadily over the next few days as we reach out to people who regularly donate to help the students.”

Proceeds from the fundraiser will be implemented in one of two ways. Donors have the option to either give directly to a specific department within the University or to give to the Southern Green and Gold Fund.

“Some people will just give their gift to the Green and Gold Fund, and the nice thing about that is that it allows us to use that in whatever is the most urgent need that particular year for the University,” said Graffam. “There may be a project that comes up that needs a little extra support, and we can put it towards that — or some additional scholarship assistance or whatever is pressing for the University at that time.”

The 25 students who are participating in the fundraising effort are set up on the third floor of the Billingsly Student Center, where a makeshift call center has been set up for them. Working weeknights from 5:45 p.m. until 9 p.m., as well as shifts over the weekends, they are provided with a list of alumni and documented phone numbers and are tasked not only with garnering financial support for the University, but with collecting updated information for the Alumni Office as well.

“We’re trying to make contact with those alums and friends to maybe update their addresses just so our Alumni Office can keep in contact with them so we can send out the Crossroads magazine and stuff like that,” said Bryant. “So, it’s not just asking for a gift to help the University, it’s also asking for updated information.”

In addition to the raised funds and updated contact information, Graffam feels that students can also benefit from the Phonathon in another way.

“Not only is this a time where our alumni and friends can provide financial support to help the students, but one of the things that I think is unique and fun about it is that it’s also a time where students can reach out and touch our alumni and friends,” said Graffam. “It’s kind of fun to be a student caller and talk to someone who was maybe in the same program you were in and be able tell them a little bit about what’s going on on campus right now.”