where have i been?

Over the past few weeks, I have had many missed calls that I haven’t returned, e-mailed that I didn’t respond to or other social interactions that I didn’t have. Why? The University Catholic Center Student Phonathon.
The phonathon was an effort of the UCC to reach out to alumni, parents and other benefactors informing them of the good things happening at the UCC now, to hear from them some of the good experiences they’ve had as part of the UCC and to ask them for financial support to help us continue our ministry.
Sundays through Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m., we had volunteer student callers calling everyone in our census records (excluding students and resident community) with two goals: attempting everyone which we have a phone number- about 2500 households- and $10,000 in financial support.
The phonathon was a huge step in the UCC’s development program. The UCC’s annual budget is about $715,000 per year with only 30% of that coming from Sunday collections and only 9% coming from the Diocese of Austin. For the remaining 61% of our operating expenses, we have to ask for support from alumni, parents, Catholic foundations, grants and other sources of income.
As one of my roommates indicated, $10,000 doesn’t seem like much compared to a $715,000 budget. Like I said, the phonathon was important because it had the UCC, through our student volunteers, talking to people who have been connected to the UCC for decades, in some cases, for the first time since they graduated from UT. We ere able to give a real human perspective to the work we do by developing this opportunity for our benefactors, who make our ministry possible, to chat with the students that our ministry benefits.
On the financial side, there is no one magic way to raise funds. $10,000 is only a drop in the bucket, but that’s the game we’re playing. Through many different “drops in the bucket”, we’ll fill the bucket by the end of the year. We have to constantly ask for money to make our ends meet since, unlike a normal parish, the members of our faith community are not able to commit the funds needed for a ministry that attempts to reach the estimated 13,000 Catholics on campus.
The phonathon was a massive effort. We had to create a calling room, capable of having eight phones running at a time, develop scripts and recording procedures, develop and send out a “pre-mailer”, a pre-phonathon mailing piece letting everyone know we’re going to call them, recruit volunteers, solicit gift cards to give to our volunteers for great performance, and not to mention, actually call 2,500 households. I was asked to coordinate this project and to assist me, I hired a student manager to help things run smoothly during the calling period itself.
Since this was the first time the UCC had ever attempted such a development event, we started everything on scratch with no real idea of how well we would do. It took a great amount of work without much certainty that we would be successful.
Well, we were successful. With a $10,000 goal over our heads, we were able to raise just over $20,700. Reaching 207% of our goal was great! Now, I have a week off for the break to rest followed by a good amount of work processing the incoming pledge payments and go over the lessons we learn as we decide how to proceed for the 2008 phonathon.






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