Annual Fund in Limbo Amid Staffing Changes

The Annual Fund will lose two of its senior staff this semester. With no permanent replacements selected, the Student Fundraising Assistants at the Annual Fund will make do with creative management strategies.

“There was confusion at the beginning of the year about who was going to supervise us, because we didn’t quite know what was going to happen,” said student supervisor and College senior Claudia Baker.

During shifts, Student Fundraising Assistants make calls to alumni to invite them to donate current-use gifts to the College.

“Essentially, students are raising money for scholarships and financial aid and then again, the operating costs.” Baker said. “So students will get on the phone in the evenings — we just have lists and lists of alumni, we have a program and a computer, and we just hop on these headsets and call alumni and ask if they can give.”

Following the departures of Director of Annual Giving Connie Skingel and Assistant Director for Undergraduate and Young Alumni Philanthropy Jack Fissinger, the student phoning room will alternate supervisors.

“Two of our professional staff members from the annual fund team are managing the student phoning program while a search is underway for the next Assistant Director of Annual Fund,” wrote Chief of Staff of the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs Lauren Haynes in an email to the Review. “One of the staff members stepping in to help until the vacancy is filled used to supervise the student phoning program before moving into her current role, so she brings a lot of experience and will provide support to the students.”

Oberlin’s Annual Fund staff raise money to support financial aid and other everyday costs of running the institution. In contrast to donations to Oberlin’s endowment — which is used to create interest for the future — donations to Oberlin’s annual fund are more immediate because they are used within the year that they are donated.

“87 percent of the money that we raise goes directly to scholarships and financial aid, and the 13 percent goes to operating costs like keeping the lights on, paying professors, and stuff like that,” Baker explained. “It’s separate from the endowment, which is a big pile of money that is invested, so we take the interest of that to help pay for anything the annual fund doesn’t cover.”

As for the successive staff resignations, Haynes wrote, “The director and assistant director of the Annual Fund did resign after successful three year tenures in their respective positions. This is typical in the development field as the demand for talented fundraisers far exceeds the supply. Both have accepted exciting new positions that offer professional growth, which reflects well on our program here at Oberlin College.”

This staffing change follows two successful years of “All In For Oberlin,” an annual all-day event during which students, staff, and community members canvas the town and the web to raise donations that will be matched by alumni.