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New calling system rakes in dough

February 4th, 2010

When asked about the stores that can be found in the Fairmount Circle Shopping Center, most students will say Pizzazz Pizza, CVS/pharmacy or Dave’s Cosmic Subs. In fact, students might be surprised to learn that there is a group of students working in a small second-floor room sandwiched between CVS and Pizzazz at the Student Calling Center.

The Student Calling Center’s goal is to solicit funds from benefactors.

“We call alumni and friends for donations and update all the numbers for the Carroll Fund,” said Hallie Gallagher, assistant director of annual giving.

The Carroll Fund collects donations from benefactors to alleviate departmental budget crunches and provide for the general financial welfare of the University.

The Student Calling Center has undergone a transformation over the last 15 months as they have turned to a state-of-the-art software system that allows them to do their work at an unprecedented pace. DialVision is a Web-based consumer interaction management system which enables its users to efficiently call potential donors while offering advantages that were previously unavailable. DialVision is currently being rented on a monthly basis, Gallagher said.

DialVision utilizes hands-free headsets and provides a streamlined approach to telecommunications. The operator simply points and clicks on the computer screen and the software system dials the numbers while the students document the donation.

In addition, DialVision provides safer and more efficient services such as real-time credit card processing, superior customer support, and e-mail capabilities, all while serving as a detailed database that keeps track of each call and donation made.

“Before, we wrote everything down on paper and it left a paper trail,” Gallagher said. “Now that we use this, it’s much safer and more practical.”

Its effects have been apparent as this year’s number of donations have already surpassed last year’s. Since the beginning of this fiscal year, the Student Calling Center has collected 2,543 contributions; last year’s donations totaled 2,506. The Calling Center approximates that 28 percent of the responses are “no,” 40 percent are “yes,” and 25 percent are “I’ll think about it.”

In addition, this year’s total amount is on pace to greatly surpass last year’s as the Calling Center has already brought in about $206,000 compared to last year’s total of $265,000.

The Student Calling Center brings in donations for the University, its upkeep and events, but it goes toward students too. Not all proceeds go to activities and organizations; the donations the Student Calling Center receives actually give some students financial aid to attend the University.

“John Carroll is a great place and for some of these kids, without this funding, they wouldn’t be able to be here,” said Gallagher. “I bet 95 percent of them receive some kind of aid from the school.”

The room and the operation taking place are reminiscent of a grass-roots political campaign; student-employees sit side-by-side, sporting headsets, and making phone calls. Posters and inspirational quotes blanket the walls while a relaxed atmosphere encompasses the group. Each Sunday night, the students order pizzas from Pizzazz and eat dinner together.

Gallagher tries to keep things loose by incorporating games like hangman and blackjack into the work environment while providing incentives for feats such as collecting credit card donations.

Junior Chris Lewis said he thinks the forward-thinking approach is working.

“I love the [Student] Call Center,” Lewis said. “It’s definitely a great additive to the Carroll community, and has increased our overall donation efforts this past year.”