Student Callers Work Phones Over Break

Not even an empty campus can stop Phillips Academy’s fundraising efforts. Two days into winter vacation, 15 Phillips Academy students and recent graduates sat in McKeen Hall calling alumni, discussing the school and asking for donations. These student callers get together in March, June and December to contact alumni and raise donations for Andover. In their five nights of calling, students raised $30,000 toward the Andover Fund. “The callers stressed the importance of participation and expressed that gifts of every size matter,” Assistant Director of Annual Giving Diane Glynn said. The student callers worked for four straight nights and had a different advisor from the Office of Academy Resources (OAR) each night. The callers received $10 gift certificates to different establishments in downtown Andover and also competed to win prizes. Each OAR advisor determined the goal of the competition that night, including raising the most money and securing the first credit card donation. Many of the alumni that the students called engaged in a conversation with the students about being at Andover. Callers said that alumni were interested in the current status of their old classes, teachers and activities. “It’s their way of reconnecting to Andover,” said Glynn. The student callers also enjoy the conversations they have with alumni. “Sometimes you could talk for quite some time with these people on PA life and such,” said student caller Bobby Vardaro ’10. “It’s really cool to see all the connections you have coming from this school.” But student callers face challenges when attempting to contact some alumni. “It is often difficult reaching the alums, many of whom are as busy with work as we are with school,” Margaret Finch ’09 said. “And there is always the person just sitting down to dinner who will hang up on you.” Worsening economic conditions have not deterred most alumni from donating. “Despite the financial crisis, most alums were just as willing to give as they were this time last year,” said Finch. A few, however, did feel the impact of the financial crisis and could not make their usual donations. Finch said, “I did talk to the wife of one alum…who said they had just lost a lot of their money and could not give.” Despite the setbacks, students placed 1,751 calls and 194 alumni donated or gave pledges.