8 things all students on telephone fundraising campaigns will know all too well


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The Independent Online

With students across the UK now being recruited to work on university telephone fundraising campaigns, it’s easy to see why the job holds such great appeal. The flexible hours, the surprisingly good pay and the chance to boost your CV with buzz phrases like “excellent telephone manner” and “good communication skills” often make this job feel like the perfect time-fill.

But what really goes through our minds as we’re reeling off lists of alumni benefits and steeling ourselves up for the big ask?

The world of a telephone fundraiser is a strange one to say the least, and here are just a few of the quirks and dilemmas you’re likely to face in your new dream job:

The disorientating working hours

“Wait – so you start at 7am? As in, not getting up then, but being there?” – oh yes. Those bleary-eyed Australia shifts seem like an uncomfortable dream by the time lunchtime rolls round. Arguably easier than calling America at 2am while your housemates are out clubbing though.

Your new intimate relationship with the mobile phone voicemail services

There’s no getting around this – you’re going to talk to more answer phones than people. Particularly cruel are those messages that sound like somebody actually picking up the phone. You’ll introduce yourself to robots on a regular basis, but don’t worry: your fellow callers are far too worried about their next ask to notice.

The slammers

Apparently some people aren’t keen on being called at 9pm on a weeknight to talk about their time at university or be updated on recent projects. Who knew?

The excitement when you’re about to talk to your would-be BFF...

This alumnus is practically you! They studied English, worked on the student paper, and are now working in “freelance journalism”. This is going to be an incredible conversation, you can just tell

…and the disappointment when they then don’t pick up the phone

Crestfallen at this lost opportunity for in-depth chats, careers advice and a potential donation, the temptation to click “call-back to be made by me” is overwhelmingly strong. But that would be incredibly selfish, now, wouldn’t it?

The awkwardness of discussing legacy giving with 24-year-olds

You’ve reached “the will bit”. Now, no-one really wants to consider their imminent death, so a bit of humour here is often good – although dropping in “well, you never know when you’re going to be hit by a bus” is probably best avoided.

The names you absolutely cannot pronounce…

...and your fellow callers realising you’ve got a situation here. The trepidation as the desks around you fall silent, waiting to hear what monstrosity is going to emerge from your mouth when the phone is picked up… making a fit of the giggles a very real danger.

Your heartfelt gratitude towards former telethon workers

They know that donating even 50p is going to get you three stars on the chart and a chocolate. They remember that yearning for a half-hour conversation, and the worry that you’ve lost your voice from lack of human contact. These alumni are the gems of the shift, the voices you treasure – and tell yourself you’re going to be just like in a couple of years’ time, when anxious students are dialling your number.