Ring … ring … The caller ID flashes a 956 prefix that looks familiar. Your curiosity piques, and you answer the phone.
“Aloha! May I speak to Hanalei Ramirez?” a voice on the line says. “This is Laulima Pono calling on behalf of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation.”
These phone calls are all too familiar to University of Hawai‘i (UH)- alumni, and upon graduation, the foundation will be calling you too.
The UH Foundation has been around for 60 years and recently launched its 2017 annual giving campaign with a goal of $1.3 million. Since it was founded, the foundation has raised over $1 billion for UH, which spans all 10 campuses and includes Windward Community College.
“Every year I get a call from UH, and I feel like all they want is my money,” said UH Hilo alumnus Kris Kahanu. “I’m $30,000 in debt from school. I need to pay that before I even think about donating.”
While potential donors may assume the calls are just to solicit funds, the UH Foundation is also building a database of alumni, friends and family information. This index of data is used to communicate news and updates about the school and to ensure that your connection to UH is never lost through phone number and address changes and the hustle and bustle of life.
In addition to building a database, the gifts donated to the foundation are allocated to aid students, faculty and staff in having a life-changing experience in the UH system. Scholarships, library acquisitions, research, student travel expenses and facility upgrades are just a few of the things donor gifts help support.
The foundation is led by director Dale Hagadone and associate director Ty Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi previously worked as a call center employee when he was a student and now runs the foundation’s daily operations with the assistance of 10 supervisors and more than 30 callers.
One of those callers, Tia Manglallan, said she’s proud to be a part of the call center.
“I have been very fortunate to receive grants towards my tuition,” said the current Kapi‘olani Community College student. “Being a part of the process of raising money for scholarships has not been easy but made me appreciate them so much more. I am grateful to those who donate so graciously.”
Due to the UH Foundation’s flexible, part-time schedule, student employees like Manglallan are able to contribute to their schools while holding the highest paying student job on campus at $14 an hour.
“The last two years working at the call center has been one of the best parts of being at UH Mānoa, “ says Kāne‘ohe resident and UH graduate Tehani Jones. “I’ve made so many connections with such a diverse group of students here. Through fundraising, I’ve learned the importance of annual giving and helping students achieve higher education. Speaking with passionate alumni about the university and hearing their personal stories has given me a different perspective on philanthropy. After graduation, I look forward to receiving these student calls so I too can give back.”
In addition to accepting contributions, the foundation is now hiring callers. It also welcomes applications as well as gifts for its 2017 annual giving campaign at www.uhfoundation.org.
by Darryl Kaneyuki, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter