Calls to alumni raise more than $1 million

The Gold Line Call Center has raised $1 million in donations for the fiscal years of 2013 and 2014. Photo by Audry Dubon.

Matt Leonard
Staff Writer

Student workers at the Gold Line Call Center have helped raise more than $1 million since the center opened in 2012.

For 10 years, the job of alumni contact had been outsourced to telemarketers, said Melanie Seiler, senior director of development and alumni communications at VCU. Reaching out to all alumni instead of making it the individual schools’ responsibility to outsource the duty has saved costs, Seiler said.

“We really believe that alumni receiving a call from students on campus will have a greater impact than if they receive a call from someone unrelated to VCU,” Seiler said.

Students are trained to make a connection with the person they call. Professional schools don’t allow the time necessary to work at the call center. Medical students, dental students and other professional students talk with undergraduate callers at the Gold Line to provide them with information on important events on the VCU campus.

“This allows the caller to really connect with the alumni,” Seiler said.

The call center has raised $1,027,273 for the fiscal years of 2013 and 2014 combined, said Michael P. Andrews, director of annual giving.

The Gold Line website states the goal of the center is to contact all 170,000 of VCU’s living alumni at least once a year. They seek to update contact information and ask for a donation to the school the alumni graduated from.

Because the College of Humanities and Sciences has the most alumni out of all the other schools, they receive the most alumni donations: $44,412 so far in the fiscal year of 2014.

“Alumni statistics state there are 60,000 alumni with a good phone number,” Andrews said.

This means there are 110,000 alumni who can’t be contacted via phone. The center also uses email, social media and regular mail to reach VCU graduates.

“We’ve rarely used ground mail in the time I’ve been here, which is eight years,” Seiler said. “We sent a postcard out to all of your alumni last semester and it cost us $30,000.”

The postcards asked alumni to update their contact information for a chance to win an iPad.

“We want to engage (the alumni) first with the hope that in the future they will invest in their alma mater,” Seiler said.

During the past two years, the Gold Line center has not made any significant changes other than turnover in student callers, Seiler said.

“That’s normal,” she said. “Schedules change, life happens, they can’t always make the required number of shifts.”

The 50 student callers are required to work three shifts a week, Andrews said.

Despite the countless calls the center makes every day, they are able to maintain a $0 phone bill.

“We use VoIp technology which negates long distance calls,” Andrews said. “We don’t call overseas either.”

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