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Telephone blog
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Telephone Campaign blog


And that's a wrap! (02/04/2019)

In the blink of an eye, another telephone campaign has whizzed by. While we are busy working out the final tallies, we already know this has been a fantastic campaign. We will let you know how much has been raised and the wonderful students and projects it will help in due course, but for now thank you so much from us all.

Thank you


Wow! (01/04/2019)

Our student callers have been blown away by the alumni they have spoken to, who have been wonderfully generous with both gifts and their time. As a caller, you never know what is awaiting at the end of the line. One student had a free-wheeling conversation about Jane Eyre. Another student else discovered they shared a passion for aerial trapeze with someone they chatted with. If you're unlucky as a caller, someone will just hang up on you, but far more common are the wonderful, entertaining chats about Fitzwilliam and the many unexpected paths beyond it.

On top of this, Fitz members have proved to be extraordinarily generous in their support in the College. Teaching funds, student support, travel grants... All have benefited from gifts this campaign, meaning that more students than ever will be able to fulfill their academic potential and explore their extra-curricular pursuits without financial stress.

A huge thank you from all callers to every alumnus who has taken the time to chat, and perhaps to make a gift too. We really appreciate it.

Telephone Campaign callers
A big thank you from Abi, Randeep and Annelise!​​​​​

New growth (28/03/2019)

Fitzwilliam is looking particularly spring-like in the sunshine today, with new shoots, new plants and new buds bursting up all through the gardens.

Plant, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

This Telephone Campaign, we have made a greater effort than ever before to connect with first-time donors, younger alumni, and those who have been out of touch for a while. The match gift has inspired many to give for the first time. We hope that over the years to come, that relationship will flourish and grow, just like the green shoots filling the gardens!


Why run a telephone campaign? (27/03/2019)

Firefighting. Nuclear reactions. No, not the behaviours of the callers and the recipients, but just some of the conversation subjects in Fitzwilliam’s tenth telethon of our 150th Anniversary Campaign.

Fitzwilliam’s founding ethos of fair access remains fundamental to everything we do. As a registered charity which operates to benefit its recipients, giving to Fitzwilliam helps to nurture a generation of problem solvers who have an enormous impact upon society. You can address not just one issue, but many, while transforming the lives and opportunities of present and future students of the College.

Fifteen student callers have been speaking to hundreds of alumni about Fitzwilliam and asking for donations. Alumni generosity makes it possible for us to financially support any student who needs it, to ensure our distinctive buildings are up to date and to provide outstanding educational opportunities for all students.

But the telephone campaign is not all about fundraising. The conversations are an opportunity to share experiences of Fitzwilliam, including academic work, sports and societies. They are also a chance for alumni to talk about their subsequent careers, dispense advice and offer work experience. Our alumni can reminisce about Fitzwilliam and Cambridge, sharing their memories with the present generation, and learn of opportunities to engage with College life. We also want to celebrate the successes of our members and foster the sense of community.

The 2019 telephone campaign concludes on Monday.

There are five calling days of the campaign remaining, so if your phone lights up it might be a Fitzwilliam student seeking a chat.


A bright start to the week! (25/03/2019)

A bright start to the week
Cheerful faces! No Monday blues here with a successful evening shift. Thank you to all our generous donors!

The Telephone Campaign: round three (24/03/2019)

Student caller Isabel discusses being back as a caller for the third time

In the four years I have been studying Spanish and Portuguese at Fitzwilliam, I have been part of the calling team for the telethon three times – in my first and second years, before my year abroad, and now my fourth and final year. Why do I keep returning? Apart from the donations themselves being a vital part of college life, I honestly value any time I get to talk to the brilliant alumni which make up our calling pool, whether that’s to get indispensable career advice, to update alumni on what’s going on at college currently, or to hear fascinating stories of their time at Fitz.

Looking back on my first time in the call room, I can remember being terrified of the phones and the people who would potentially be answering them. I was sat next to a returning caller, with second-and third-year students all around me, and I felt very young, with little to no knowledge about Fitz or the people who went there before me. But I have had so many incredible conversations since the first evening I dialled a number on Fitz’s behalf: talking to some of the first women to be admitted to Fitz, hearing the career successes of so many of our graduates, and comparing life at Fitzwilliam College with people who matriculated in Fitzwilliam House over 50 years ago.

And of course, being able to give a little bit back to my college has always been a reason for my participation. Fitzwilliam has supported me in so many ways since I first stepped over its threshold with music scholarships, travel bursaries and extra supervisions, which have led to me being able to pursue career opportunities I barely would have imagined 5 years ago. With the help of college, and the donations from alumni which make up the Student Support Funds, I have been able to spend almost a year working in unpaid roles as a journalist in both Bolivia and Chile – getting me a head-start on a career ladder which is precarious at the best of times.

So, thank you to those who pick up the phone and give the nervous student on the other end a chance to chat. It really is one of the highlights of my year to hear so many different stories. Perhaps it’s the journalist inside me, or maybe just my innate nosiness, but being able to talk to such a range of alumni from Fitz is not only productive for the college and good for my career, but also fun. It’s just a shame I won’t be able to take part next year!


Meet Paul Forster, our match donor (23/03/2019)

Paul Forster (Geography 1983) spent three years at Fitzwilliam before pursuing Masters degrees at Oxford University and INSEAD, France. He went on to co-found Indeed.com, the world’s largest job site, and is now a tech investor. In the 2019 Telephone Campaign, Paul is generously match funding up to £10,000 of donations from young alumni and first time donors through his family foundation.

Why do you give to Fitzwilliam?

I loved my time at Fitz and it was a great learning experience.  As well as the academic side, I got a huge amount out of extra-curricular and social activities. Since coming back to live in Cambridge in 2012, I have reconnected with the college and tried to help in fund raising efforts, including joining the Campaign Council.   As the costs of running the college go up and public funding becomes scarcer, the need for private sources of funding is growing and alumni are a big part of that.

Why is it important to see young alumni giving back to Fitzwilliam?

It is personally very satisfying to keep a connection to the college after graduating and regular giving is a good way to do that.  You get a tremendous sense of satisfaction when you start giving and you get to see the results of that when you come back and visit.

What advice would you give the callers when speaking to alumni?

If you can find a common interest, you are more likely to establish an emotional connection, reminding them of their time at the college and its importance.  Did you read the same subject, do the same sport or even live in the same corridor?  If you can find something in common, however trivial it may seem, you're more likely to grab their interest.

How did Fitzwilliam equip you for your future career?

I read Geography which I didn't subsequently use directly in my career, but it was a fabulous broad-based education.  A lot of other things I spent time on - including running the Ball committee - were great early leadership experiences.

Do you have a favourite memory of your time at the College?

I don't have a single favourite memory - it is more of a blur as I recall getting involved in so many different things, and with eight-week terms, there wasn't much time to draw breath, but it was a blast!

Thank you to Paul from all of us at Fitzwilliam! Our student callers are having a great response to the match funding.


Bricks (21/03/2019)

At Fitzwilliam, bricks are everywhere, the distinctive red-brown hue of the newer blocks alongside the mellow gold of the Grove.

This started us thinking. One brick is useful. Perhaps it props open a door or acts as a paperweight.

Two bricks can do a bit more. You can prop open two doors.

Once the bricks start multiplying, so do the possibilities. Bricks become paths, and walls, and eventually they might even become a College.

Gifts to Fitzwilliam are like this. Any gift helps - perhaps it buys a student a book, or repairs a window frame. Joined to another gift, it might send a graduate to India to research use of solar panels, or an undergraduate to Brazil for a year-abroad internship.

And when lots of gifts come together, lives are changed. Someone who never thought their future was at a university can see new horizons. With financial aid, they are given a hand up to come and study at one of the world's great centres of learning. There they discover they can do more than they ever thought possible.

Will you be part of this? If a student rings you during this Telephone Campaign, it is not a meaningless request. It is a request to stand with the members of Fitzwilliam and be part of something special.

Fitzwilliam College building


And we're off! (19/03/2019)

Day two of training is over, and calling has begun! Students had great fun being matched with alumni, and seeing the exciting careers Fitzbillies before them have pursued.

Particular excitement has also accompanied preparing asking for gifts from young alumni and first-time donors. Thanks to the outstanding generosity of alumnus Paul Forster, donations from these groups will be matched pound-for-pound up to an agreed level! That means double the help for students, double the funding for teaching, or maybe double the help towards extra-curricular opportunities. So, if you are under 35 or have never given to Fitz before, now is your chance. We hope you are looking forward to your call!

And we're off!


Training: day 1 (18/03/2019)

Who, what, why? Fifteen bright-eyed student callers have spent the day learning the ins-and-outs of a Telephone Campaign, why we hold them, and how to ensure they are positive experience for former and current students. What big lessons have they learnt?

Adib: Today I was shocked to find out that the average student accumulates £56,000 of debt during their time at university!   

Abi: Today, I learnt that Fitz supports 1/3 of undergraduates through hardship or bursary funds, meaning that Fitz are able to help a huge number of people.

Aisha: Finding out about the exciting generosity of a donor to match pound for pound gifts from new donors across this calling campaign is really inspiring, and means what we're doing could have such a massive impact!

Training day 1 - Telephone Campaign, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge


Meet the team (15/03/2019)

Fitzwilliam's calling team consists of 15 callers, 3 of whom are returning callers, having enjoyed it so much the first time around!

We make an effort to match our callers to alumni: so if you were an engineer you might chat to an engineer, or perhaps if you were a squash fiend you might chat to a fellow player. It is striking, too, how callers and alumni do always find common ground. Fitzwilliam might have changed - and might look very different from your own days here - but there is always a shared connection.

This year, the team includes 4 MMLers; 3 enthusiastic rowers; 2 keen footballers; and one fan of lemon drizzle cake.

Read more about our team here, or if you have any questions FAQs are here.


The calling team are ready! (11/03/2019)

The interviews have been held, and we have a fantastic team of students looking forward to speaking alumni around the world. In a few short weeks, Fitzwilliam’s tenth telethon of our 150th Anniversary Campaign will begin.

The annual Telephone Campaign is a vital way for the College to keep in touch with its alumni, foster links between current and former students, and seek support for projects. This year, we have fifteen students who will try to speak to several thousand alumni, updating them on College life, asking for careers advice, and explaining how they can give back to a new generation.

If you have been selected to take part in this year’s Telephone Campaign, you will receive a letter or email giving more details. We do hope that you enjoy the opportunity to speak to a student, whether or not you feel able to give. This blog will give you an insight into the Campaign as it runs, allowing you a glimpse behind the scenes.