Friday, April 24, 2009

Wherein I expose myself as a cranky B (yet totally dedicated to my profession)

Here’s the thing: I’m a fundraiser. ::steps out of closet::

I refrain from talking too much about my professional life here (or anywhere on zee interwebz for that matter) because this blog is my attempt to enhance my life outside of the 9-to-5. (Geez, look at all those “I” “me” and “my” pronouns. Newsweek, call me for your next narcissism expose.)

Yesterday, I finally picked up a call from an entity which has been stalking me for the better part of this year. That entity is my alma mater and they have called me every day between 5:00pm and 6:30pm since late January.

I know why they were calling, and silly me, but I do not want to talk about making a donation A) after I’ve logged 10+ hours at the office, B) in the middle of my super-fun commute home and C) to an institution who is involved in a lawsuit for reneging on a bequest resulting in the dissolution of the college/school that facilitated my degree.

Yet, I answered the phone. Big mistake on my part.

Ashley-cita: Hello?
Poor, underpaid college student: Is this Mrs. Ashley-cita MAIDEN NAME?
AC: ::sigh:: Yes. What can I do for you? ::dodges non-signaling-lane-changer::
AC: Yes.
PUCS: Mrs. MAIDEN NAME, Tulane has received a record number of applications from High School seniors this year and is welcoming a new chair to the Architecture department. Would you like to support our efforts with a donation to the Annual Fund?
AC: Unless and until Tulane resolves its lawsuit with Newcomb, no, no I would not like to donate to the Annual Fund.
PUCS: Okay. Thanks.

Here’s why I’m writing about this: this entire call ticked me off as a professional fundraiser.

#1: The timing of the call.
Who on Earth schedules a donation request call at this time? People are just getting off work. They may be (as I was) fighting traffic to get home and attend to their families. Why not wait until 7:00pm, when most people have arrived home, have had some time to decompress and are probably more receptive to your message?

#2: The poor, underpaid college student had my name wrong.
Either one of two things happened here: one, she was given the wrong information, or two, she didn’t want to attempt my current last name, which could be difficult if you do not speak Spanish.

I’m inclined to believe number two because she had my current address where I routinely receive mail from Tulane addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Husband’s full name or to Mrs. Ashley-cita New Last Name.

As a fundraiser and a donor, you should always always always attempt the person’s last name, even if you butcher it. At least you made an attempt, the person will (usually) graciously correct you and you won’t sound like an uninformed moron calling them by the wrong name repeatedly.

#3: Tulane is currently in this lawsuit with my college, Newcomb.
I’ve donated to both entities before, prior to the dissolution of Newcomb, through Tulane. I can assure you they have nicely kept records of my gifts. Perhaps informing me of the new chair at one of your schools, to which I have absolutely no connection, was not the best way to warm me up to the idea of giving, hmmm?

Additionally, as a professional fundraiser, I believe Tulane is 100% in the wrong with this lawsuit.
Remove my emotional connection to Newcomb and these are the facts:
1: Tulane University was bequeathed a gift by Mrs. Newcomb to establish a school for women, separate and apart from Tulane College.

2: This college, Newcomb, was established and, staffed using funds earned by Mrs. Newcomb’s endowment, for a couple hundred years (give or take).

3: Post-Katrina, the Tulane Board dissolved Newcomb College and established a new college, blending it with Tulane College (for men). At this point, the contract (which is what Mrs. Newcomb’s gift was) was in breech by Tulane University.

4: The Newcomb heirs filed a lawsuit against Tulane University stating as much.

It’s appalling that an organization could take a gift from a donor, with the promise to fulfill that donor’s wishes, and then just not do it. If an organization cannot fulfill its promise, then it should return the gift to the donor and state as much. It is then the donor’s prerogative to either A) give the gift without restriction to the organization, B) re-allocate their donation to the organization or C) take their gift back.

Sorry, Tulane. You are in the wrong here and that is why I will not donate to you until the lawsuit is settled.


Raye said...

As another disgruntled Newcomb Alumnae, I am equally passionate though less articulate! As an aside, if there's no longer a Newcomb College providing smart, savvy, accomplished graduates, then how will the alumnae association continue?

But that's an aside. Here's my cranky gripe: if Tulane can afford lawyers from three different expensive firms, slick mailings to discredit caring alums and to promote their version of reality, and a costly (of course) PR firm, then why do they need to fundraise? Instead of spending millions to counter caring Newcomb graduates and our supporters, why not engage us in restructuring and re-establishing a beloved 120 year old college? Imagine the support and dollars they'd then receive.

Kudos and appreciation for your blog. And your humor! The tax deductible organization "The Future of Newcomb College" could use your fundraising (and other) talents. Visit www.newcomblives and join us. We use the talents and leadership skills developed at Newcomb to support the law suit to bring back our college. We hope your readers will check us out. And you, Ashley-cita, will be the first blog I follow! Thanks for a great read.

msdoc said...

LOL! Why does Tulane think any Newcomb alum would respond to that kind of phone call?

It is typical of what has happened here. Since the Renewal Plan, TU has sunk to being a 2d-choice university. The best way to renew itself would be to restore Newcomb, which was a 1st-choice women's college.

ashley-cita said...

I just read a blog that said this year's graduating class will be the last to graduate from Newcomb College. Next year's class will be the result of Newcomb Institute... unbelievable.

Thank you both for commenting. Even if Tulane was right in consolidating Tulane College and Newcomb College (which they are not), they really missed the boat in bringing Newcomb alums along in the process. It's my feeling that they are trying to convert as many as possible to Tulane donors, cut their losses with the rest, and are focusing on the next generation who do not identify with the Newcomb name.

Kate said...

How can a graduating class be the result of an institute that is just a bunch of programs?

Face it, Tulane doesn't know what it is doing. They probably realized they screwed themselves closing Newcomb and don't have the sense to know that they should reopen the college and get going again.

And they did NOT consolidate Newcomb and Tulane. They just killed off Newcomb and put all that money into doing whatever the institute is trying to accomplish. (And they are killing off the alumnae association in the process by making them go beg people to support the institute.)

It is pitiful.

Circe said...

I suck and have lots of catch-up reading to do.

ashley-cita said...

I love you, Circe. Never ever change.