Lehigh Liners, the outreach program where student ambassadors contact undergraduate and graduate alumni, just surpassed $500,000 in donations.
Lehigh Liners call alumni, family and friends to engage in conversation about Lehigh. The student representatives, or Liners, contact these people to hear about their Lehigh experience before simply asking for donations.
The Office of Advancement employs about 45 students through the program, all of whom they cite as energetic, outgoing and ready to hear about and share experiences with the alumni they contact.
“We have an extremely dynamic group of students this year,” said Joseph Volturo, the associate director of the Lehigh Liners.
He attributes the high fundraising numbers to all the hard work and dedication they put into the calls.
Each Liner conducts a conversation surrounded around what the alumni felt passionate about at Lehigh, whether it be Greek life, Mountaintop, athletics or anything else.
“We like to build morale up and just have a nice pleasant conversation, they realize after that it is fundraising too,” said Emma Resnick, ’18, who has been a caller for three semesters.
Resnick explained the concept of an ask-ladder that all Liners use in regard to donations. All callers start with asking for a $250 donation, then — if rejected — they lower the price to $100 and continue down from there if necessary.
“Even if they don’t consider donating, we continue conversation because it’s both about fundraising and making sure that they have a good relationship with Lehigh outside of donating,” Resnick said.
In wrapping the conversation up, Liners ask if there is anything that they would like to see improved or changed on Lehigh’s campus and if they want their donation to go towards that.
“If there is a problem, like a fraternity being kicked off, we cannot make the change ourselves obviously but we can still write comments and talk to people higher up,” Resnick said. “We can tell them what they are upset about and why they are not on good terms with Lehigh at the moment, and that has caused them to donate toward that cause or just not donate at all.”
Each year, the Lehigh Liners work on a fiscal calendar starting in July. Volturo said they don’t have a set goal for this year but reaching this number already is “an unbelievable accomplishment.”
Liner Rachel Lambert, ’19, spoke about her excitement about reaching this milestone.
“It’s just good to see that our hard work is actually producing something on campus and helping students at Lehigh,” Lambert said.
Volturo graduated from Lehigh in 2002, and after being in sales in the corporate world, joined the Lehigh Fund in March 2015. He decided he wanted to get involved in higher education and Lehigh was the first place he turned to.
“(Liners work to) not just get people to donate to Lehigh University, but to donate to their passion,” Volturo said.
He said it is important the callers are ready to discuss different aspects of campus with alumni to figure out what their passion is and ask about donations from there.
The Liners set a higher goal for this year.
“It’s important to have those goals, you can’t hit a target you don’t even have one,” Volturo said. “After surpassing $500,000, we are on track to achieve the goal, which is pretty amazing.”
He compared the numbers to previous years.
“To put it in perspective, it’s pretty on par with years past, but when you look across the country, it’s getting harder and harder to reach people through this means of communication,” he said. “That is why I think it’s astounding to think of the success we’ve had because we are still growing compared to our peer schools.”