Thank-A-Donor Days is a Redbird tradition that began in 2017. The initiative invites student scholarship recipients to write a thank you letter to their scholarship donors. In years past, Thank-A-Donor Days was held in person, but the initiative was moved to an online format last year due to COVID-19. Beginning September 15, students will again have the opportunity to thank their scholarship donors by logging into the online Thank-a-Donor Days portal.

ISU Sociology major Kaitlyn Pokracki participated in last year’s Thank-A-Donor Days initiative. Pokracki was awarded the Will to Succeed Award in fall 2021.

Kaitlyn Pokracki
Sociology major and scholarship recipient Kaitlyn Pokracki

“Private support changes students’ lives by paving a way as they achieve their goals and eventually do their share of helping society,” said Pokracki. “Being able to gain knowledge and education from Illinois State University is honestly a dream come true due to the obstacles I have faced, and it means the world to have the support of a donor that I have never even met.”

To her scholarship donors, Pokracki wrote, “Thank you again for your generosity and support during my academic journey. I promise to work very hard and eventually give something back to others, especially to those in the disability community like myself.”

Thank-A-Donor Days is equally meaningful for scholarship donors. Saying thank you humanizes the scholarship and donation process and creates a powerful connection between the recipient and their donor.

Illinois State University alumni Robert Glaser ’58 established a named scholarship in 2016 to support students majoring in economics, history, politics and government, and sociology and anthropology. When his scholarship was awarded, he hoped to learn more about the recipient, including their background information, interests, and future plans.

Thank-A-Donor Days allowed this to happen. Glaser said, “Last year, I received a wonderful letter from that year’s recipient. That beautiful letter was almost solely responsible for my adding a significant addition to my scholarship fund this year. What I hoped to accomplish with the scholarship had occurred. I could not have been more pleased or happy. That framed-letter now hangs proudly in my office as a fulfillment of my intended purposes for creating the scholarship.”

Last year, 685 students wrote thank-you letters to their donors through the virtual initiative. Interim Director of Donor Communications and Stewardship Laura Freyman is hopeful even more students will take time to share their appreciation this year.

Freyman said, “Private support from scholarship donors opens doors for students. The goal of Thank-A-Donor Days is to share that appreciation with the donors who make these educational opportunities possible.”

Private support is integral to the Redbird experience. To learn more about creating a scholarship for Illinois State students, visit