Northwestern students are paid to answer phones and accept pledges from donors during Phonathon. All donations go to the Northwestern fund, which allows the school to take off $1000 from every students’ tuition before the bill is sent out. The fund also helps with the technology department, student scholarships, academic support, maintenance and more. There are benefits for students who help with Phonathon.
“Being a Phonathon caller these past two years has been great and I have connected with people that I wouldn’t normally connect with,” Mariah Diekevers said, “This job has suited my busy schedule and has been very flexible for me. It also is nice to earn the extra money each and every month.”
If you are interested in participating in Phonathon, you can sign up online or contact Maggie Hulstein, director of annual giving, who runs the program.
“Phonathon is also a great job to have on a resume, and future employers will appreciate seeing it as it shows great communication skills, a personable attitude and a history of working on a team and for a cause,” Hulstein said.
Students hone their communication skills, and they get to have fun.
“Part of what makes Phonathon such a fun job is that you get to talk to interesting people every day,” Emma Van Drie said, “You can end up hearing someone’s life story, talk about your favorite Chicago pizza places or call your grandma while she’s trying to watch ‘Dancing with the Stars’…Maggie bakes really good cupcakes to boost morale.”
Perkins Aiyengbeni shared a funny story of a call: “When I first started, I was so ready to go. I was ready to start making calls. I reviewed and thought of many ways people could question me, but the one I didn’t think of was my name. I called and introduced myself and the lady asked me what my first name was I said Perkins, she was like ‘What?’ Then I told her Perkins like the restaurant and she started laughing.”
While calling is a big part of what students do, they also send pledge cards in the mail and write thank you notes to donors. During the calls, they do more than ask for donations. They ask how the other person is doing and talk about how things have changed at the college. They even ask for prayer requests, which is a huge blessing for some people.
A major success they had was last year on All N Day; they raised $136,000 in one day.
“Phonathon callers were a big part of this, as many of us made calls most of the day to inform people about this event and record donations,” Van Drie said.
“I think that some success that has happened in phonathon is that we have a very good connection with the people we are calling. They tend to reply and talk to us, with open hearts,” Aiyengbeni said. “Granted, there are times when people don’t want to talk, but when you catch them on a good time, they are always very chatty, meaning that they like what Northwestern stands for.”
If you’re worried about talking on the phone or not being experienced, there’s no need.
“Nearly all of the students who start on the team join with little to no experience in this type of calling and develop their skills from the training provided and from experience calling,” Hulstein said. “In that sense, every student experiences successes in the program. Many enter with trepidation of speaking on the phone and leave with little to no hesitation to have conversations on the phone.”