April 16, 2009
KNOXVILLE - The University of Tennessee's telephone fundraising campaign is proof that gifts of all sizes can make a difference.
For the first time, UT's Telefund has reached $1 million in pledges for a single fiscal year, which is considered a benchmark for programs that contact potential donors by telephone. The pledge total is $1.1 million, and it will count toward the $1 billion Campaign for Tennessee.
Part of the UT Office of Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving, the Telefund has recorded 10,349 pledges this year, also a record for the 24-year-old program. The average gift was $97.94. Last year, there were 8,324 pledges for an average of $96.
"This milestone attests to the power a large number of people can achieve by pledging gifts of any size. It means $1 million more for UT programs across the state," said Kerry Witcher, assistant vice president for alumni affairs and annual giving.
The Telefund begins every year in August and ends at spring commencement. About 60 student workers are hired each year to call alumni and ask for pledges.
This year, the calling shifts were expanded from three hours to four hours a night. Students work from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
While the Telefund is operated in Knoxville, calls are made to alumni from every campus. The Telefund is centrally located to take advantage of one automated dialing system and staffing. Donors can allocate their pledge to any campus or program.
The Telefund, begun in 1985, has raised $8.1 million and logged 768,000 completed calls.
The Campaign for Tennessee so far has reached $825 million. The campaign's silent phase launched in 2005 and will run through 2011.