The Imperial Spring 2020 Telethon will be running for 7 weeks in February and March. I worked on the Spring 2019 Telethon. So, I decided to write about what the job entails and provide some advice for future callers!
This campaign aims to reach out to alumni to share exciting news from Imperial with them and to invite them to support the college through a range of giving opportunities. Ultimately, the telethon is not about fundraising. It is about initiating and strengthening long-term contact between Imperial and its alumni. It is also about you enjoying great conversation with alumni.
Shifts take place on weekdays in the evening on the weekend during the day and afternoon. You will be required to work at least two shifts a week and at least two weekend shifts during the entire campaign. However, one of the best things about this job is its flexibility. Ahead of each week, you provide your availability (ideally 3-4 dates when you can work). You usually get allocated 2-3 shifts on some of the dates you provided. You also be able to swap with fellow callers if you cannot make your shift. Due to the job’s flexibility, I was able to work 2-3 shifts every week of the campaign as a full-time student.
You will have to attend a compulsory but paid training weekend to prepare you for the role. From what I remember, you will be informed about the different teams involved in fundraising at Imperial and the project for which the funds are being raised. You will be asked to choose 2-3 of those projects that you feel passionate about. Then during each call, you try to find a segue from the conversation to tell them about your chose project and ask for their donation. You will get to practise running through a call from start to finish a few times during the training. During the training, you will be given a training booklet which contains everything you need as a caller. It has details about the different projects at Imperial, example questions to ask to start the conversation and scripts as some parts of the call are scripted.
A regular shift usually goes as follows: You sign in then you set up your laptop on a desk that has a landline phone. You will also need your caller booklet and a mini whiteboard and a marker to take notes during the call. There is a software that will tell you all the details you need to know about the alumnus you are calling. There are a few possible outcomes to your call but I am only going to talk about when you successfully get a donation. For this one, you process the donation as your training booklet tells and then you the call. Following a donation/nice conversation, you should write a personalised Thank You card for the alumnus. These are really fun to write and are one of the highlights of the job as a caller. The number of alumni you call will vary from shift to shift and so will the outcome of the calls.
What I gained from this experience:
I found being a caller vastly rewarding and meaningful in the sense that I was making a real difference to the student experience at Imperial. The conversations I had with alumni were remarkable. Some offered me really valuable career advice whereas others told me how they enjoyed their time at Imperial and wanted to know how student life is different now. Additionally, I met many fellow students whom I have become really good friends with. Working as a caller helped me enhance many professional skills such as communication, negotiation, persuasion and teamwork. I have also become more confident with my telephone manners.
Tips and Advice:
- Never turn up to a shift without your training booklet!
- Regardless of the outcome of the previous call, you should start each call enthusiastically and positively
- Don’t get put off by slammers or people who think you’re trying to scam them. It’s part of the job.
- When unsure what to talk about, talk about your time at Imperial and what you love about it
- Don’t get disheartened when you don’t get a donation as there is an element of luck to it and you get better at it the more you do it
- Don’t feel awkward or uncomfortable asking for money as you are asking for it for a meaningful cause
I hope you find this blog informative and useful!