The 2017 UCT phonathon involved 22 days of calling, connecting with 4 868 alumni, and raising R483 000 in pledges from 152 donors.
Lucretia Motswakhumo, a 2nd-year business science student, was one of the 40 callers. She so valued her conversations with alumni that she kept a log of the inspiring words of advice she received. These memorable quotes, decorated with sketches of flowers on the notepad beside her, are what Lucretia regards as the ‘learning’ she takes with her: “Be kind… learn from failure… they would not have accepted you if they didn’t think you’ll graduate”. A usually shy and reserved individual, Lucretia now feels more confident to take on other opportunities to strengthen her communication skills.
On hand to meet with callers on the penultimate day of the phonathon, vice-chancellor Dr Max Price agreed that the experience of cold-calling and asking people to donate is an “education for life”. He believes that in whatever field of work students find themselves, the ability to influence people to donate or invest in an organisation is an invaluable skill.
A key area of focus for the phonathon in 2017 was the Distinguishing UCT Campaign, which aims to build the university’s endowment for greater sustainability in a climate of uncertainty about student fees. Andrew Hlupo, a 3rd-year mechanical engineering student, shared his excitement about talking to alumni about the campaign: “This is also my story. I know what a difference it can make to have the support of a bursary.” Economics student, Amahle Konono, was also encouraged that while there is much talk about the fees crisis, UCT is taking initiative through the campaign to “be part of the solution.”
Phonathon co-ordinators, Cindy de Oliveira and Lu Nteya, were delighted by the high level of engagement and teamwork among the 2 teams of students who called on alternate days. The efficiency of the online calling system was also an added bonus to the project, designed and built by the university’s Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) team. ICTS also generously hosted the phonathon at the call room on Main Road.
As students put away their headsets and logged off for the last time, it was not without a sense of gratitude for the growth and learning they had experienced over the 3- week journey. Their contribution, as the Phonathon Team of 2017, was acknowledged in the relationships of support that were strengthened with the university’s valued alumni community.