On Mar. 18, the Big Red Phonathon, a major fundraising mechanism of the Cornell Annual Fund, reached a significant milestone: $1 million. This sum, up from approximately $605,000 last year, is the highest sum ever earned in a single fiscal year since the Cornell student phone bank began 13 years ago.“During a difficult financial year, our supervisor Jen Hudler, along with 18 student managers and over 100 student callers, were able to put together the most successful fundraising effort in the program’s history,” Mike Parry ’10, a student manager for the fund, wrote in an email. “This is an enormous milestone for our program and highlights the commitment of our alumni to their alma mater.”Staffed by 151 student employees, the phoneathon has been placing calls six days a week since August, soliciting donations from alumni and relatives of students. In the 2,557 man-hours since August, they placed over 43,135 calls to more than 10,000 individuals to reach their record total on Mar. 18.Proceeds from this project benefit the Annual Fund, an alumni-driven effort that provides unrestricted funds for current use projects as determined by the University administration. Typically, these funds provide support to the financial aid system, professor salaries and special programs on campus. Despite the financial crisis, last fiscal year’s total for the fund was $24.4 million, a number which contributed to the University’s third place ranking of charitable donations for American universities. Under the banner of Far Above… The Campaign for Cornell, the fund hopes to reach $50 million by December 2011.“It is an amazing accomplishment for our program.” Jen Hudler, the annual fund’s supervisor in charge of the Phonathon, said “Although this has been a great year so far, I hope we can do even better next year.”The fund will continue fundraising efforts until the end of the University fiscal year in June.
Original Author: Evan Preminger