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Shelby Bottiger (center) reviews some notes with Bearcat Callers  as they begin their shifts in the call center at Michael L. Faust Center for Alumni and Friends. Bearcat Callers  secured a record amount of family donations during the most recent fiscal year. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Shelby Bottiger (center) reviews some notes with Bearcat Callers as they begin their shifts in the call center at Michael L. Faust Center for Alumni and Friends. Bearcat Callers secured a record amount of family donations during the most recent fiscal year. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Oct. 25, 2018

Annual giving program breaks record with help of Bearcat Callers

By Kelsey Johnson, communication assistant


Bearcat Callers enjoy making connections with alumni and educating them about the Northwest Fund, an unrestricted account that supports the greatest needs of the University and how students benefit from it.

Bearcat Callers enjoy making connections with alumni and educating them about the Northwest Fund, an unrestricted account that supports the greatest needs of the University and how students benefit from it.

It’s another evening at the call center inside Northwest Missouri State University’s Michael L. Faust Center for Alumni and Friends, and the student employees there are working furiously to raise money for the Northwest Fund.

They go by the name Bearcat Callers and are constantly making calls throughout their three-hour shifts. Numerous voices are on the phone at once, and the sound of typing comes from all directions. They are calling Northwest alumni, friends of the institution and parents of current students, asking to them to consider giving to the Northwest Fund, an unrestricted account that supports the greatest needs of the University.

And their efforts are paying off. The call center finished the fiscal year with more than $32,000 in family donations, a new record for the University.

Shelby Bottiger started work in May as Northwest’s annual giving and alumni relations specialist. She also is a proud Northwest alumna and supports the Northwest Fund and the growth of the University.

“I am so passionate about Northwest and student success,” Bottiger said. “This job is very rewarding because I get to see how money from private support goes directly to students every single day, whether it’s for scholarships, profession-based learning or for a specific department that is able to offer something they previously could not. I get to tell the story of how students benefit from private support to encourage alumni to give back to Northwest.”

Bottiger has strengthened the call center by implementing an eight-hour training session for new Cat Callers and provides guidance on conversing with alumni.

“We do not use a word-for-word script to read from, because we want the conversation to be genuine,” Bottiger said. “However, there are parts of the call the Bearcat Callers must hit, so we go through each part and they write it in their own words. From there, they practice reading it out loud so they can get comfortable with what they’re going to say on the phone.”

Bottiger decorated the walls of the call center with a Hawaiian theme to help create a positive, relaxing environment. The Bearcat Callers also enjoy the connections they make with alumni as well as the sometimes surprising conversations each phone call brings.

“I really enjoy working with Shelby,” Kelly Hoffmann, a Bearcat Caller supervisor and a senior chemistry major from New Haven, Missouri, said. “She has brought a fun and positive energy to the call center, and she has helped the confidence of new callers. When I first started here, I struggled with my conversations on the phone, so having her to build us as callers has helped a lot.”

Hoffmann has been a Bearcat Caller since her freshman year. Now she is a student supervisor and helps new Bearcat Callers improve their phone calls through evaluations and feedback. Hoffmann’s favorite part of the work is talking to alumni who enjoy sharing their experiences at Northwest.

“I have gotten to talk to so many different people who I never would have been able to talk to if I hadn’t worked here,” Hoffmann said. “I learned a lot of Northwest history through being here. I have talked to alumni who were students here during the Roberta (Hall) explosion and even women who knew Roberta (Steel). Some say she is the sweetest soul and would never haunt campus, and others say she was the biggest jokester, and they know for sure she is haunting the halls.” 

After finishing a phone call with an alumnus who started a judo club at Northwest in the 70s, Cooper Finnicum, a freshman pre-dental major from Topeka, Kansas, says he is enjoying his first semester as a Bearcat Caller because of the connections he is making and the rewarding feeling of personal growth within the job.

“When I was looking for a job on campus, I saw the job posting for Bearcat Callers and thought the name was funny,” Funnicum said. “After clicking on it and seeing what the job was, I thought, ‘Wow, you get to talk to people and get paid?’ Now, I have had cool conversations with Northwest alumni. It is so rewarding knowing you are helping the University, too. I struggled a lot at first, so when I got my first gift I just thought, ‘I can’t believe I did that.’”

Bottiger is proud of the Bearcat Callers’ success.

“Our current Bearcat Callers do a great job of telling our story to the alumni of the continued success that we have, and I just feel that we keep offering more and more opportunities for students to prepare them for the future,” Bottiger said.

For more information about the Northwest Foundation or to make a gift to support Northwest, contact the Office of University Advancement at 660.562.1248 or visit www.nwmissouri.edu/GiveOnline.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468