Rhodes funding telethon brings in plentiful pledgesDate Released: Tue, 11 September 2018 12:41 +0200
Rhodes University recently held a telethon to update its alumni database and asked for personal contributions from the University alumni for the Isivivane Fund. The student callers were pleasantly surprised at the positive response.
Isivivane is a 10-year fundraising campaign which aims to raise funds for both undergraduate and postgraduate bursaries, increase capital for maintenance of residences, and to grow the University endowment for sustainability.
Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela feels strongly that no academically-capable student should be refused entry into Rhodes University due to a lack of funds.
“This is the first time that Rhodes has run a telethon specifically for Isivivane since the launch of this audacious fundraising campaign in June 2017,” explained Luyanda Bheyile, Development Fundraiser for Campaigns at Rhodes University. “The positive response we received is testament to the commitment of our Rhodes family. As the name Isivivane suggests, these alumni have added a stone to the pile to make a personal contribution for a great common cause.”
Out of the 1411 alumni successfully contacted, only about 15% were unable to donate outright. “The large majority were willing to at least consider pledging, which greatly motivated our telethon team,” said Bheyile.
Sixolile Ntombana, one of the students making calls during the telethon, is herself a bursary recipient. “I enjoyed being a part of creating opportunities for other students, as I personally know the difficulties involved with not having funds.” Although she initially took her funding for granted, she said the telethon made her realise how important giving is. “I witnessed what a huge difference a little bit can make…. it goes a long way,” she said and now plans to become a donor herself.
Another student caller, Zolani Bethela, said he was surprised when he learned about the Isivivane initiative. “More students need to know about this. Higher education institutions are generally seen to care more about money than providing education, which often leads to protests. However, I now know and understand how hard Rhodes University works to gather funds for student education, so that the financially-needy ones may have equal opportunities.”
Both Ntombana and Bethela are bursary recipients, and feel they would not have been able to get a higher education without funding. “My bursary has helped me immensely,” said Bethela. “And this exercise has made me decide to definitely give back once I am in the position to.”
What people don’t realise, he said, is that their donation doesn’t only help a single student, but it helps their families and even supports the community as a whole. “As Sixolile said, a little bit goes a long way,” he added.
Bheyile believes social media is a very good tool to use for these sorts of drives. It was through these channels that the telethon group was able to secure their biggest pledger. “An Old Rhodian saw our Tweet about the telethon, and contacted us for more information,” said Bheyile. “He was keen to get involved and ended up being our biggest telethon pledger.”
The individual in question is Pride Jani, a Rhodes alumnus who also sits on the Old Rhodian Gauteng Committee, where he assists in organising fundraising events for Rhodes students. Through the telethon drive, Jani pledged to donate R500 a month towards Isivivane undergraduate bursaries and Isivivane infrastructure for heightened student experience.
Jani is one of Rhodes University’s most loyal donors, and has been donating towards the give5 campaign since 2015. He started doing this in response to a Rhodes University Facebook post about the project. “He didn’t only sign up as a donor for give5, but he challenged others to do the same,” Bheyile pointed out.
Overall, the 2018 telethon generated over 40 new pledges worth R66 150 in five days. Bheyile and the telethon team were so impressed by the success and are looking forward to next year’s campaign.
Please visit www.ru.ac.za/isivivane to learn more about the campaign and to make online donations. Isivivane Fund has also been registered on GivenGain and donations can be made anonymously or otherwise on the following link: