Office of University Communications & Marketing

UNA Phonathon Sets Record for New Scholarship Dollars
Nov. 23, 2010



FLORENCE, Ala. – As college tuition prices soar across Alabama and nationwide, the University of North Alabama Office of Annual Giving has taken creative action in seeking donations for the general scholarship fund by organizing a student-run phonathon called Smile and Dial, which recently brought in $115,780 over a three-week period.

The Office of Annual Giving employed 34 UNA students to encourage alumni and friends of the university to donate money toward scholarships for deserving students. From Oct. 30 to Nov. 18, the phonathon callers worked seven days a week from 5:45 to 9 p.m. to give supporters a student’s perspective about UNA and to ask for monetary donations.

Director of Annual Giving Melody Stewart said the amount of money raised in this semester’s phonathon far exceeded the original goal, which was to bring in around $100,000 total between the fall 2010 and spring 2011 semesters. Last spring, phonathon callers brought in $58,000, while only $27,000 was raised for scholarships during the fall 2009 semester.

“One of my goals this year was to increase the alumni giving percentage,” Stewart said. “The amount of money our student callers have raised has blown me out of the water. This amount of funding allows us to be competitive with other universities and to bring in top-quality students.”

UNA switched to a new phonathon service in spring 2010 called Wilson Bennett Technology. Under the management of phonathon director Kim Stoutenburg, the student callers underwent a four-hour mandatory training session, in which they learned the company’s software, phone script and how to communicate effectively with alumni.

UNA junior Devin Kennamer, an integrated communications major, saw the original job listing on the UNA Facebook page and thought the phonathon was a good way to get involved on campus as well as gain experience for his future career.

“It has been interesting and a lot of fun getting to know the people I’ve worked with and the people on the phone,” he said. “It’s been great to be able to talk to alumni and to see what they’ve been able to do and accomplish since graduation. Doing a phonathon like this is a great way to build communication skills, especially over the phone, which is such an important aspect in any field.”

According to Stewart, the alumni giving percentage in November 2009 was .94 percent, while this year’s percentage jumped to 3.56 percent this November. She said the amount of alumni giving and faculty/staff contributions at UNA determines whether corporations or private foundations give grants to the university.

For more information about annual giving, contact Melody Stewart at 256-765-5080 or mastewart@una.edu.