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Illinois State University launches new philanthropy day, Birds Give Back

Illinois State University will host Birds Give Back: 1 Day for Change, on February 28, 2019. Through the University-wide day of philanthropy, alumni, faculty/staff, students, parents, friends, and the community can donate funds to support their areas of interest at Illinois State.

This is the first time the University will hold a dedicated day of giving. According to Pat Vickerman, vice president of University Advancement, “Holding the ISU giving day after Founders Day activities gives us the opportunity to celebrate the 162-year history of the University and then imagine our future and the role private gift support can play in accelerating our aspirations.”

University supporters are encouraged to make gifts of any size during Birds Give Back at Donations will also be accepted over the phone and in person. See the Birds Give Back website for additional details.

“Each and every gift truly matters at ISU and impacts the trajectory of the University. Together, our alumni and friends will help elevate ISU and take the University to new heights,” said Vickerman.

Several generous donors are issuing giving challenges and matches throughout the day which will unlock additional gifts in support of the University. As a kick-off challenge, Russ Hagen ’80 and his wife, Donna Hagen, will donate $100,000 after 500 individual gifts of any size are made. Keith ’97 and Julie Smith ’89, ’92 will add $25,000 to giving day totals after an additional 300 gifts are made.

Jillian Nelson, senior director of Annual Giving is excited about ISU’s first-ever exclusive giving day. “Our focus is on participation and the amazing challenges and matches available throughout the day will help every Redbird maximize the impact of their gift no matter the size of their donation.”

Redbird supporters can also sign up to be Birds Give Back ambassadors. Ambassadors receive exclusive updates and contents to share with their networks and the ambassadors who influence the most gifts have the opportunity to win prizes.

“By bringing the Redbird community together to harness our collective philanthropic power, we can make a big impact on the people and programs of Illinois State,” Nelson said.

To learn more about becoming a part of the new annual tradition of Birds Give Back, visit

Birds Give Back will contribute to Illinois State’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State. Redbirds Rising, Illinois State’s most ambitious fundraising campaign, was launched in fall 2017 with a goal of raising $150 million in support of scholarship, leadership, and innovation at the University. To date, more than 46,000 donors have contributed over $138 million to the effort.