Phone center uses employee game to boost donations

By , Reporter  |  Wednesday, November 6, 2013 1:21 AM

St. Thomas’ Phone Center introduced a new fundraising game this year to increase teamwork and motivation in student workers and to boost donations to the university.

Hannah Michelson, the phone center’s program center manager, said student supervisors came up with the idea for the year-long game and introduced it in September. In the game, student workers are divided up in two teams and awarded or deducted points based on their performance.

Michaelson said the game is intended to create a fun and competitive atmosphere so the callers are motivated to work hard. Michelson said the phone center will award prizes to the first, second and third-place teams.

A phone center talks with a potential donor on his headset. The center is using a new game to motivate student employees and boost donation amounts. (Luke Moe/TommieMedia)

A phone center employee talks with a potential donor on his headset. The center is using a new game to motivate student employees and boost donation amounts. (Luke Moe/TommieMedia)

“Holding people accountable by praising those who are doing well so others will strive for the same success is a very crucial part of the game,” Michelson said.

Michelson said she couldn’t definitively comment on whether alumni donations rates have risen since starting the game, but she speculated that the motivational boost among phone center employees is helping the overall donation goal.

So far, senior Mary Rogers, phone center manager, said most employees seem receptive to the game.

“We aimed this game more at getting people to come to shift and be engaged and accountable, which, in turn, should increase giving,” Rogers said.

The year started with a draft to pick teams based on previous caller performance, with student managers acting as team leaders. The teams then chose names and began competing.

The game is based off a point system. Callers gain points for their team by ending their shift above goal, picking up extra shifts or by earning “caller of the week.” Teams can lose points for tardiness or not showing up to a shift, having a bad attitude or hanging up on a potential donor.

Freshman Danny Gilles, who works at the phone center, said he has enjoyed the game so far.

“I like the new system because it adds an element of competition and a little entertainment to help distract from the fact that you’re at work,” Gilles said.

Junior Paul Frekot is also a fan of the game because it provides entertainment on the job.

“You don’t really think about the game too much; you just think about sitting down and getting points for your team to ultimately win a prize,” Frekot said.

Senior Brian Keller, a student manager, said he has noticed the the competitive nature of the work shifts and thinks the game is helping donation rates.

“The game is definitely working because you’re taking a work atmosphere and creating a game out of it; that is helping the shifts’ energy level and overall production,” Keller said.

Luke Moe can be reached at

This item was posted in More News, News and has 4 comments so far.


  1. Patti Shaughnessy
    Nov. 6, 2013 10:51 AM

    Thank you for posting this information. A lot of what took place during my call now makes more sense…like the caller not being happy with my donation amount and asking me to give more, and being less happy when I told him I was not able to this time. While a ‘game’ like this can motivate staff and keep it interesting, it can also alienate those being called if not approached in an appropriate manner. (By the way, Alumni Affairs…I still haven’t received my envelope for sending in the check!)

  2. Roman Oberle
    Nov. 6, 2013 4:14 PM

    Ms. Shaughnessy,
    I am a student manager at the Phone Center this year and on behalf of all students at UST I want to thank you for your donation! I apologize if you were upset with us for asking you to increase your gift this year. This is standard in all of our calls; in order to keep up with the rising cost of tuition each year we ask if you are able to increase your gift slightly. The fact that our caller was “unhappy” with your donation amount is unacceptable and I can assure you that I will do everything I can to prevent it from happening again. In regards to your return envelope, may I ask when you made the pledge? It does take a while to get the pledge cards out in the mail so it could just be that we had a lot of them so it took a little longer. 
    -Roman Oberle
    Phone Center Student Manager

  3. Patti Shaughnessy
    Nov. 11, 2013 7:05 AM

    09/30/2013 (give or take a day). Just asking because I’ve had mail delivery issues. Thanks for your response!

  4. Roman Oberle
    Nov. 11, 2013 10:17 PM

    I will make sure we send you another pledge card. Very sorry for the mix up! 

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