The Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) Royal Callers blew past their initial goal of $85,000. Enhanced by matching funds, the Royal Callers for Phonathon were able to finish the 2011-12 year with $136,212.
“We’ve had the incredible blessing of several donors giving significant contributions to be used as matching money this year,” said Lois Wenger ’76, Royal Callers supervisor.
Wenger, who serves as receptionist in the development office at EMU, volunteered to supervise the Phonathon midway through last year after the previous supervisor stepped down.
“At first it was on an interim basis, but I work with a very supportive office and we were seeing results, so I just kept with it,” said Wenger.
In addition to the total funding success, Wenger said the Royal Callers eclipsed two other records. The nine-member group collected $6,580, setting a new top mark, and then exceeded it with a total of $6,725. The back-to-back record-breaking nights set a five-night calling period of $26,325.
“Our goal is to be relational, respectful and resourceful,” said Wenger. “Our callers have the opportunity to be in contact with alumni, hear their stories and experiences, and talk with alumni who have a shared major to their own.”
“We want to connect with alumni – their participation is critical in enabling students to have financial assistance and raise awareness for the university,” said Wenger. “The University fund supports scholarships enabling students to have financial aid – alumni support is vital to EMU.”
A chance to connect
Michael Swartzendruber, a seminary student from Kalona, Ia., said he’s enjoyed connecting with alumni and has had a few interesting conversations, including “one gentleman who just wanted to talk.”
“He was very down-to-earth and said he would pray for me – one of the better ‘no thanks’ comments I think anyone could receive,” said Swartzendruber.
Other students experienced similar stories of alumni wanting to re-connect with EMU and current students.
“I spoke to a person who was a previous giver and asked her to up her amount by $50 or $75,” said Rachel Richard, an elementary education major from Lancaster, Pa. “She said that she and her husband recently came into some money and that they would actually like to send in $500. I was speechless and could barely finish the call because of my excitement.
“I honestly was worried I wouldn’t be able to do the job because I didn’t see myself as someone who would take rejection well,” added Richard. “But through the training and as I gained more experience, I learned a lot about how not to take the rejection to heart and how to graciously accept a no. I feel privileged to have been a part of such a great team.”
A great leader
Several students pointed to Wenger as the reason for this year’s record-breaking Phonathon total.
“Lois stepped into the job and really blossomed,” said J.E. McNeil, a first-year caller from Washington D.C. “She’s really sweet, bringing us snacks and something to drink – she was a driving force.”
Richard agreed: “There were some nights when the numbers were down and people weren’t getting donations, but Lois stayed positive. She was always quick to say ‘I’m proud of you’ or ‘Keep pressing through, you can do it.’”