Virtual Giving Day offers Ducks a chance to make a real difference

The Duck

The UO’s May 13 Giving Day will go virtual for the second year in a row. But the difference donors make for the university will again be very tangible.

Thursday marks the UO’s sixth annual Ducks Give celebration. Different areas of the university have set individual fundraising goals, and organizers hope generous Ducks will help each of them cross their respective finish lines.

As always, the focus of the day will be departmental priorities and gift challenges from alumni and friends. Even though it’s a universitywide event, the emphasis is grassroots fundraising, said Rob Dow, assistant director of annual philanthropy. It’s a fitting way to reflect on a historic year, he added.

“Our theme is ‘Thank those who came before, and support those who come next,’” Dow said. “We can trace the impact of philanthropy back to the earliest days of our university, and our donors are just as important now as they were then.”

And a pandemic now in its second year has only made them more essential.

“The difference that philanthropy makes was especially evident over the past year,” Dow said. “For 2021, we want to express our gratitude. Of course, this is a great day to support scholarships, teaching, the student experience, research and more. But it’s also about celebrating our donors.”

Dow hopes more ambassadors join the effort during the days leading up to the event. It’s free, he added.

Anyone is welcome to sign up, spread the word and inspire Ducks to give to the UO and help unlock giving challenges. And there will be many opportunities to make a difference by giving.

“Even though it’s a universitywide effort, Giving Day is traditionally a grassroots event,” Dow said. “It’s people-powered, where individual gifts have the power to unlock larger gifts, giving people the opportunity to come together to make great things happen.”

So far, donors have pledged more than $600,000 in challenge gifts to support 27 different areas of the university during Ducks Give. And that number is expected to grow as the day approaches.

Because of COVID-19, event planners have gotten creative and found new ways to communicate and celebrate. Though Ducks can’t gather in person, planners are keeping as many of the traditions as possible, and also adding some new fun.

The online activities will include three morning wellness breaks. At noon, a panel of graduating seniors will reflect on their experiences as UO students during the pandemic and the difference UO donors have made for them.

In the afternoon, a Spotify 5K playlist featuring UO-themed tunes punctuated with words of inspiration from UO coaches will be released. At 6:30 p.m., the UO community will honor the newest recipients of the university’s Pioneer Award during a live virtual ceremony.

Throughout the event, schools, colleges and other university units will focus on fundraising for the causes most important to them. Details about fundraising goals, challenges and special events will be updated regularly, said Dow, so people are encouraged to visit the website often.

Dow also encourages anyone interested in helping to sign up as a Ducks Give Ambassador. When individuals create a free account, they receive a unique URL to share, which will track how much they helped raise for the university.

“This Day of Giving has something for everyone,” Dow said. “There will be many ways to get involved. You can attend a virtual event, share something on social media or make a gift. Regardless of how you do it, we encourage as many Ducks as possible to participate.”

Ducks Give happens Thursday, May 13. To learn more, join in the fun or become an ambassador, visit To participate on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #DucksGive.

By Ed Dorsch, University Communications