The second annual Birds Give Back – 1 Day for Change kicks off on Thursday, February 27. This year’s event will focus on garnering increased participation on Illinois State’s very own giving day.

“We took a chance last year by moving away from Giving Tuesday and shifting our focus to Birds Give Back. Last year’s success taught us that the Redbird community is ready and willing to support the Illinois State causes that matter to them,” said Senior Director of Annual Giving Jillian Nelson. “This year we’re aiming to set a participation record by reaching 1,735 gifts during Birds Give Back.”

A series of challenges will encourage participation and make the most of donors’ gifts on February 27. Illinois State supporter Don Watson ’82 has committed to unlocking a $100,000 gift to student scholarships when 500 gifts are made on Birds Give Back. Birds Give Back ambassadors who promote the giving day on social media will also bolster participation. Influential ambassadors can earn prizes for their help spreading the word.

The Birds Give Back participation goal is part of a larger strategy to reach 15,000 donors in the final year of the Redbirds Rising campaign, which ends on June 30, 2020. To date, over 54,000 donors have contributed more than $171 million to elevating the Illinois State experience. More than 30,000 of those donors are Illinois State alumni, and nearly 26,000 have been new donors to Illinois State during the campaign.

“It’s amazing to see the collective power of our community when we come together to invest in scholarship, leadership, and innovation at Illinois State,” said Vice President of University Advancement Pat Vickerman. “Birds Give Back presents an opportunity for Redbirds to demonstrate the value of their Illinois State experience and confidence in our direction.”

Birds Give Back takes place during Redbird Philanthropy Week, a weeklong emphasis on how private support creates a university on the rise. “We want to convey to students and the broader community the ways in which philanthropy is already elevating Illinois State, and that they, too, can become a part of that change,” said Nelson.

During Redbird Philanthropy Week (February 24-28), students will have the chance to participate in interactive exhibits to learn more about the importance of private gift support.

“The Redbird community—including students, faculty and staff, alumni, and friends—has proven to be tremendously generous to ensure Illinois State’s success,” said Vickerman. “I encourage you to rise with us as we reach new heights of excellence, knowing that each gift makes a difference, now and for years to come.”

To learn more about Birds Give Back – 1 Day For Change, or to sign up to be a Birds Give Back Ambassador, visit To view all Birds Give Back challenges and make your gift on Illinois State’s very own giving day, visit