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Making Personal Contact with Alumni Through Telefund

RELEASED: April 24, 2008

Telefund callerEAU CLAIRE — Connected with electronic answering systems and automated voice mail people seldom expect to personally reach a human being when using the telephone. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation's annual Telefund is working to put a real voice and name with its outreach efforts to UW-Eau Claire alumni by engaging students to make the calls.

"That one-on-one human connection is important to people," said Amy Oldakowski, Telefund coordinator. "We want to reach out to our alumni and make that contact — to tell them what's new and listen to what's important to them. It's a relationship we want to foster and the students who call alumni do a great job of it."

The personal contact also encourages alumni to give to their alma mater. Last year the Telefund brought in more than $547,000 from private support. These funds benefit students directly through faculty-student research collaborations, Blugold fellowships, internships, study abroad programs, service-learning projects and other university efforts, said Kimera Way, executive director of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation

"The Telefund generates support for critical programs and activities that are UW-Eau Claire's marks of excellence," said Way. "It is heartening to see that our alumni and friends are committed to supporting excellence at UW-Eau Claire."

Last year Telefund callers had more than 30,000 conversations with alumni, parents and friends of the university. The student callers say they appreciate connecting with alumni.

"It makes me feel good that I am part of a vast group of alumni that make a difference for UW-Eau Claire and in the world," said Crystal Navarrete, a junior in marketing from Fullerton, Calif., who has been a caller for Telefund for two years.

The Telefund was created in the spring of 1981 by a volunteer group of faculty, staff and alumni. Since then the Telefund has grown into an organization with nearly 40 employees who contact thousands of alumni each year.

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KH

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