Fundraising, Phonathon in high-gear despite economy

Ameila Judge, sophomore psychology major, mans the phones for the Phonathon.

Ameila Judge, sophomore psychology major, mans the phones for the Phonathon.

Alexandra Nicolas

The Missouri Southern Foundation is doing anything but phoning it in.

Even with the economic downturn the Foundation is still expected to reach it’s goal of $80,000 for the annual Phonathon.

“We’re poised to have as good, or a better year than we’ve ever had,” said Curt Betebenner, executive director of the Foundation of fundraising efforts as a whole.

Though the Foundation is feeling the times with fewer small donations coming in, Betebenner said they have received more large-scale donations and are seeing an increase in first-time donors.

Gifts from W. Robert Corley along with large donations to construction projects could mean high numbers for the year. However, earmarked donations will do little to ease the University’s financial stress.

“We’re getting money donated, but it’s all earmarked,” Betebenner said.

Currently, with 3,000 of the 7,000 potential donors contacted the Foundation is behind where it was last year, but Betebenner is optimistic.

“I get the feeling that we’ll be able to make it back,” he said. “But some donors are backing off, that’s just a sign of the times.”

First-time donors are also on the rise. As of press time, the Foundation had a reported 62 first-time donors, who Betebenner says are the hardest to get.

The Phonathon is staffed by volunteers who make calls to faculty, staff and graduates with money going to fund scholarships and departmental needs.

While the campus’s new entrepreneurial attitude could put a dent in Foundation collections, Betebenner doesn’t mind as long as the money ends up in department hands.

“It’s the end number that matters, if that generates more total giving and more total support then that’s fine,” he said.

Southern isn’t the only school seeing fundraising take an upturn. Pittsburg State University also reports greater success with large donations, while smaller gifts are less frequent.

“I think with the smaller gifts you have the alumns sitting around their dining room table with their checkbook, trying to make a decision to give to Pitt State or Missouri Southern; the economy is affecting everyone,” said Brad Hodson, executive director of the PSU Foundation.

Like Southern, PSU is seeing an increase in first-time donors. Hodson said the trick is to keep those donors.

Southern’s Phonathon is expected to end the first week of April, depending on when volunteers finish calls.

To pledge to the Phonathon persons may visit