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 Stories for April 1, 1998:

Student Callers Are Stars in Telephone Fund Raising

by Fran Marsh, Public Affairs
posted Apr. 1, 1998

Alumni and friends, listen closely. Those fresh, youthful voices on the line asking you for contributions to support Berkeley are students – working their way through college.

For four years now, the university’s development office has mounted an in-house student-staffed telephone fund raising program for Berkeley’s annual fund. For the scores of student workers selected to participate, the hours are long but the rewards are significant.

Last year, students raised $1.7 million for scholarships, emergency student loans, library acquisitions, and faculty recruitment and retention. This year, it’s $2.2 million, according to Leslie Schiller, associate director of Annual Programs at University Relations. The gifts go toward filling the gap left by declining public support, and alumni say they enjoy the opportunity to interact with students.

Freshman Tenéa Price began calling for Cal last November.

“In the beginning, it was really hard,” she said. “They tell us to expect rejections much of the time, but you do get disappointed.”

“I was ready to quit until I got my first pledge. Then it became fun.” With practice, Price, who is majoring in business administration and performing arts, receives pledges from more than half her calls and has raised $20,000 for the university.

The phone calls are made from 2505 Channing Way during day and evening hours throughout the year. Students phone for many Annual Fund efforts: nine school and college annual funds, class gift campaigns, the Parents’ Fund for Cal, the Cal Annual Fund and senior gift programs.

Recruitment is through Sproul Plaza tables, Daily Cal ads, classroom and dorm flyers, and word-of-mouth. The selection process is rigorous, because callers are spokespeople for the campus, Schiller said.

Ten hours of training emphasizes fund raising essentials including negotiation skills and how to present a strong case for giving to Berkeley.

In keeping with the job they’ll be doing, applicants are first interviewed by phone and, after another round of interviews, approximately half are selected. Callers are paid $6.77 an hour and work at least 14 hours a week.

“We encourage each student to develop a personal style and technique,” said Schiller. There is no script.

Some 70,000 alumni and friends will hear from student callers this year, said Schiller. “Everyone wins.”

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