by Kaitlyn Munro, '10
While most students at St. Bonaventure spend their evenings studying or relaxing with friends after a long day of classes, a group of students has been given the mission to “smile and dial” for the Bonathon.
The Bonathon, a student driven calling program, is the Annual Fund’s most effective way to secure gifts and pledges from alumni, parents and friends of the University. “Our alumni have a strong affinity for St. Bonaventure … and look forward to the student phone calls each year,” said Annual Fund Manager Karen Heitzinger.
For Lauren Scorse, a sophomore in the School of Education and Bonathon caller, the feeling is mutual. She enjoys calling former students who are eager to share their Bonaventure experiences.
“Just knowing the person on the other end of the phone is a fellow Bonnie makes us have something in common, a connection that really enlightens me,” she said.
Call sessions for the Bonathon take place Sunday through Thursday in the fall and spring and Scorse has been making phone calls to alumni, parents and friends all over the country, gaining support for the University. She says “each night of calling is different and some calls are more challenging than others.” Scorse and other students have made numerous calls to people who decline.
Although rejections happen, student callers are not discouraged. Last semester, Scorse raised more than $60,000 toward the $400,000 Bonathon goal. Many alumni are eager to pledge. During one call, she asked a former student if he would like to give more. He agreed, willing to do anything for the University that made him who is today.
To keep the callers motivated, supervisors will play a nightly game such as Black Jack or pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey with the callers. Eligibility to play the game is based on the pledge amount raised. Callers also earn “Bona bucks” for raising the most money for the night. Bona bucks are then used to purchase gifts donated by local businesses and range in value from three to $40 dollars.
Funds raised through the Bonathon provide financial aid, scholarships, improved learning resources, faculty development and new technology for current and future students.
As a major in elementary special education with a concentration in math science technology, Scorse has benefited from the transformation of classroom enhancements made possible through donations to the Bonathon.
She feels that “the Bonathon really makes a difference. The money affects everyone on campus. I feel it’s a great way for people to give back.”