Phonathon sets record

by Owen Egan

Close to a hundred Montreal-area McGill graduates of all ages sat eagerly by their phones this week. They were all phonathon volunteers and succeeded in raising a record-breaking $105,000 in pledges as they commandeered the Royal Bank's downtown offices for two intense but rewarding evenings of dialing for dollars.

Following a welcoming reception, each evening began with a quick briefing by the deans of the various faculties on the current state of their departments, so the callers could give prospective donors a clearer picture of just where and how their dollars would be used.

Then it was off to the phones. Some new volunteers found the prospect of phoning strangers at their homes a trifle unnerving. Others, like 22-year phonathon veteran John J. Lukca (BCom'75, CA '78) has the calling routine down to an art, and was plainly having fun.

"Maybe I've got the right sales pitch, or maybe I'm just lucky, but people really seem to be happy to hear from me--and to pledge donations.

"Doing this brings back memories from 20 years ago--and it makes me feel young. I'm very proud of my university and where it has helped me get to today. Volunteering for the phonathon is a way to give something back," says Lucka.

Also giving something back to McGill this week was the Royal Bank, which donated their offices in Place Ville Marie for the event, and ACC, which provided the telephone service.

Finding donors like the Royal Bank and ACC is just one of the tasks that falls to Joanne Thompson, (BSc'94) in her capacity as Annual Fund Coordinator for McGill.

For Thompson, Monday and Tuesday nights were just the final instalments in a year-long organizational saga. After similar events in Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto, the Montreal phonathon "is the last push for our fiscal year--it ends May 31."

But there's little time for laurel-resting in the phonathon business. Thompson says work will begin almost immediately for next year's event.

She adds, "You do get tired toward the end of the year, but then the volunteers' enthusiasm gets infectious. I remember once thanking a volunteer for coming out, and he turned to me and said, 'But, it's an honour to be here.' That kind of thing re-instills my own enthusiasm for doing it all again."