The Annual Fund calling campaign for the 2013/14 academic year has kicked off with a brand new calling team.
Twenty-eight current LSE students are taking to the phones to speak to alumni about their time at the School, to outline the range of benefits that are available to alumni and to explain how they can give back through the Annual Fund, which supports a range of projects in the areas of student support, academic enrichment, campus development, student experience and engagement. Last year the calling programme contributed over £225,000 towards £803,628 raised in total by the Annual Fund.
Joe Pearson, an MSc Media and Communications student, is entering his second year as a caller, eager to return to the ‘fascinating’ phone calls he has with alumni. “I’ve had a lot of really interesting chats,” he said. “They generally fall into two categories – those who were here so long ago that LSE was incredibly different, such as those who were evacuated to Cambridge [at the outbreak of the Second World War], or those engaged in political activism in the 1960s; and then others who are interesting because of what they’ve gone on to do. And I have great conversations with those who are interested in what I do, who are able to give me advice and share their own experiences.”
Joe is keen to point out the two-way nature of the calls. As opposed to just being a fundraising exercise for the Annual Fund, the calls also serve an important alumni relations function. “I think particularly with recent graduates, it’s as much about continuing to get them involved with LSE. For example, often people will be surprised when I tell them that they’re still able to use the School’s library, and they then suddenly realise the benefits of being an LSE alumnus or alumna.”
Nonetheless Joe appreciates the transformative impact the Annual Fund has upon the School, particularly as he reaped the benefits first hand courtesy by receiving funding for Ruthless, a zombie apocalypse film he directed through the LSESU LooSE TV society, LSE’s own student television channel. “It really is something that you would just not be able to do if the Annual Fund didn’t exist. It was a valuable experience and in an area that LSE wouldn’t normally give you experience in – obviously the School gives you a great education and experience for a career, but it’s through the Annual Fund that we’re able to do these sorts of things that provide a more well-rounded experience.”
Krystle Onibokun, an MSc student in the Department of Management, has joined the calling team this year. “I was looking for work that I could fit around my studies, which at the same time made me feel like I was making an impact,” she said. “With the Annual Fund, not only can I work from campus but at the same time I feel like I’m giving back to LSE by bringing in donations. The Annual Fund is important because LSE can’t rely on government support or tuition fees to support the programmes and initiatives that are important to the School.”
While she admits the calls were nerve-wracking to begin with, Krystle says she is growing into the role. “It’s good to hear about other people’s experiences and how they view LSE. To be on real calls with alumni was nerve-wracking at first, but the training has definitely helped and now I’m feeling more confident.”
For Agne Stengeryte, a second year BSc Accounting and Finance student, the Annual Fund was a particularly appropriate area of the School in which to work. She has received funding both in her capacity as a treasurer of the LSESU Baltic Society and as a New Futures Fund scholarship recipient. “The Annual Fund is obviously important as it has enabled me to study here and cope with the high cost of living in London. But it’s also very important for the development of campus.” She added: “It’s nice to discuss with alumni how LSE has contributed to their lives – they’re often helpful and talkative, sharing their experiences over the years.”
Examples of recent projects supported by the Annual Fund include student scholarships via the New Futures Fund, bursaries for the LSE-UCT July School, funding towards the acquisition of The Women’s Library @ LSE and support for LSE’s estates strategy through the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre and 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. It also backs a number of smaller initiatives, including projects run by Students’ Union societies and other student-led initiatives. The Annual Fund donor report, which showcases a selection of projects that benefited from a record level of funding in 2012/13, is now available online in a brand new interactive format.