UWC’s Alumni Phonathon celebrates its success
The University of the Western Cape’s Alumni Phonathon campaign had many reasons to celebrate when a closing ceremony was hosted for the initiative on 2 March 2017.
Not only had the campaign exceeded all expectations, having raised over R1,6 million in pledges in three weeks – the target was R1million in five weeks – but it also brought on board 557 new alumni and staff givers, and received positive feedback.
The Alumni Phonathon project was a component of the broad-based Access to Success campaign, a partnership between UWC and the SABC to respond to the need of ensuring that academically performing UWC students are provided with opportunities and the necessary resources to complete their qualifications.
Four SABC radio stations – SAFM, Good Hope FM, Umhlobo Wenene and Radio 2000 – were actively involved in highlighting the importance of a collective solution-finding effort through which the UWC community, alumni, corporate South Africa and friends of UWC collaborate towards finding sustainable funding solutions for students in need.
SABC Western Cape General Manager, James Shikwambana, said the broadcaster was pleased to be associated with important projects like these, which tackled the difficult problem of finding money to fund higher education for those to whom it would matter most.
“Student protests have forced us to think deeper about access to higher education and about the structure of our society. And when we were approached we didn’t hesitate to throw our weight behind the campaign to raise the funds to address such an important issue,” said Shikwambana.
In support of the public appeal, an Alumni Phonathon, Faculty and Staff campaign, as well as a corporate appeal initiative were set up to target specific stakeholders to raise funds. These initiatives were spearheaded by the UWC Alumni Relations Office in the Department of Institutional Advancement, and involved a number of other departments throughout the University.
The phonathon programme involved 50 students calling UWC alumni across South Africa with the aim to reconnect, update their contact details and raise funds to address student fees needs as part of the Access To Success campaign. The staff campaign involved a team from the Alumni Office visiting faculties and departments to persuade staff members to pledge their support to these fundraising efforts.
Samantha Castle, Manager of UWC’s Alumni Relations Office, said the success of the initiative was due to the collective efforts of all students and staff who participated in the initiative, as well as partners, the SABC and donors - both alumni and staff.
“As the Alumni Relations Office we say a big thank you to you for your positive contribution, without which our first alumni phonathon could not have been a success,” she said.
Students Helping Students: Ubuntu and Access To Success
The phonathon was an ambitious experiment meant to run for five weeks, but it was unfortunately halted because of student protests and related matters, and ended up operating for three weeks.
“But I’m proud of your achievements in such a short period of time - together the phonathon and staff campaign have raised R1 693 192 in pledges over three years, with R156 614 already in the bank – and counting,” Castle told the student callers. “Your enthusiasm, commitment and hard work mark you as worthy ambassadors for your university, and you did us proud by leading by example in doing your part as responsible socially aware citizens.”
UWC’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, said the participation of students in the campaign demonstrated the community spirit which powerfully symbolizes the African concept of Ubuntu.
“As a country we will be doing well if our universities can produce students who are not only armed with technical skills and knowledge, but also armed with social consciousness to do what is morally right. For you what was right was offering your time and effort to help. That is true generosity of human spirit.”
Prof Pretorius said the environment in which the students chose to volunteer - the higher education sector - is characterized by a decline in funding and very poor socio-economic conditions faced by students, where the inequality gap keeps on growing and the grip of poverty keep on tightening. The Phonathon was just one way to help address these matters - and much more effort will be needed to engage with them fully.
Prof Pretorius concluded, saying, “Voluntary campaigns like this are about developing the social consciousness to always do what is morally right. We need more volunteers in South Africa; we need people who have a sense of urgency that we are shapers of our own destiny. Thank you for taking the lead and setting an example.”