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ISSUE 121 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/30/2007

'Partners' provides

By Jamie Klein
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 30, 2007

Maybe you have noticed the renovations to Boe Chapel or logged on to one of the new computers in your residence hall.

Perhaps you have used some of the new library resources or cleaned up in one of the residence halls' refurbished showers.

Or maybe you are one of the many students on campus who depends on scholarships to continue their St. Olaf education.

Whatever your circumstances are, your life as a St. Olaf student has probably been affected by Partners in Annual Giving.

Partners is an unrestricted fund that is contributed to primarily by alumni. Parents, faculty, staff and "friends of the college" also donate to the fund every year. Because it is an unrestricted fund, the money raised by Partners can go wherever the college deems it most needed.

This means work that is important but not necessarily glamorous -- like ground maintenance and hall renovations -- is taken care of in a timely fashion. Partners also provides athletic equipment and makes it possible for many students to study abroad. Even the campus critters benefit from the fund -- partners recently bought new cages and racks for lab rats.

To show appreciation for the donations provided by Partners as well as encourage giving, students have the opportunity to participate in the Partners' annual phonathon.

As "Ole Callers," these students have the job of calling alumni, parents and faculty to both update them on the happenings at St. Olaf and to ask them for contributions to the annual fund. There is a calling period both in the fall and in the spring. The fall calling period just finished on Nov.15, and the results were positive.

"This year the Ole Callers raised a little over $747,000 in the fall," said Sarah Cohen, who is the program manager of this year's phonathons. Partners is assisted in the phonathon by RuffaloCody, a company which helps non-profit organizations. "This was above our goal of $725,000 and $100,000 more than the amount raised last year."

This increase can be partly explained by a change in calling periods -- the fall calling period was lengthened and the spring period shortened to make budgeting easier.

The responses of Olaf alumni were not only impressive in terms of monetary amounts, but also in participation. Rankings such as the U.S. News and World Report play a role in many students' decision about which college to attend, and alumni support -- no matter how much or how little is contributed -- plays a role in the rankings.

This year, 29 percent of the pledges were made on credit cards. This helps to reduce the annual $4,500 that is spent on postage and processing for pledge cards.

It's also important that alumni learn the value of contributing to the annual fund from their very first years out of college, and the most recently graduated class showed that they understand the importance of giving back.

"Over 50% of the class of 2007 has pledged to the annual fund; I think that is fantastic!" Cohen said.

Current Oles will have another chance of their own to help Partners in Annual Giving in mid-February, when spring calling begins.

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