Concordia was one of 401 nonprofits that participated in this year’s Giving Hearts Day. Photo courtesy of the Office of Advancement.

A child with autism was given hope for an independent future, a homeless man was given an opportunity for shelter and employment assistance, a local artist was given the possibility of a grant to pursue her musical dream, and a high school senior was given a chance at a scholarship to become a Cobber. All of these were made possible by Giving Hearts Day on Feb. 8.

According to the Dakota Medical Foundation of Fargo, co-host of the event, this year’s Giving Hearts Day raised approximately $13 million from over 60,000 donations, surpassing last year’s total of $10.7 million. Donations came from more than 28,000 individuals, all supporting nonprofit organizations in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

Sarah Arntson, communications manager of the DMF, said that Giving Hearts Day started in 2008 as a result of their partnership with the Impact Foundation, a group that trains nonprofits on successful boards, fundraising, and marketing.

“Giving Hearts Day is the day to implement all the things [nonprofits] have learned in that training,” Arntson said.

The DMF, along with the Impact Foundation and Alex Stern Family Foundation as co-hosts, work year-round to make this event a success. They also host a kick-off training for participating nonprofits, which includes marketing tools and donor retention and recruiting. This year, the social media hashtag for donors was #countme.

“Our goal this year was based more on participation than on a dollar amount,” said Amanda Sayer, assistant director of Giving Hearts Day at the DMF. “Our goal is really to spread the word of Giving Hearts Day and spread the words of the nonprofits and to let their stories be told on any different platform.”  

Donors could submit donations online on the Giving Hearts Day website or through checks and cash brought directly to the organization. Concordia College was among the 401 charitable causes who participated in the fundraising campaign this year, reaching out to alumni and friends of the college via email, social media, and videos prior to the event.

According to Katherine Halvorson, associate director of the Concordia Annual Fund, Concordia raised a total of $37,494.97, almost a 42 percent increase from the 2017 total of $15,690. One anonymous alum pledged $10,000 towards a fund match, promising to donate up to $10,000 if that amount was given collectively to Concordia on Giving Hearts Day. All of the money will go to student scholarships at Concordia.

“It was inspiring to be part of this event,” Halvorson wrote in an email. “Cobber alumni and friends give their time and dollars to multiple causes. We know, for many, this spirit of service and philanthropy is cultivated during their time as a student at Concordia.  I enjoyed hearing from Cobber alumni about the organizations they love—including Concordia—and why they give back to their alma mater.”

The nonprofits receiving donations during Giving Hearts Day are separated into two categories: those with yearly budgets exceeding $50,000 a year and those under $50,000 a year. They are then ranked at the end of the event by how much total money they received.

The Anne Carlsen Center, which is in the large budget sector, raised about $406,000 this year, placing them in second place for that category behind the YWCA of Fargo. The Anne Carlsen Center is a nonprofit that has provided support and resources to serve those with a wide range of mental and physical disabilities for over 75 years. Their goal is to create opportunities for individuals and their families throughout North Dakota, which includes a K-12 school in Jamestown and a community-based service operation in Fargo.

Logan Little, marketing and communications director of the Anne Carlsen Center, was overwhelmed by the generosity he saw this Giving Hearts Day.

“Giving Hearts Day is always a big deal … we see an increase in our donor outreach and our donor support and I think that’s to be reflected with the growing need that people see,” Little said.

The New Life Center, another large budget nonprofit located in Fargo, has participated in Giving Hearts Day for the past five years. The nonprofit seeks to provide housing and other needs for men facing homelessness and vulnerability, as well as support programs and classes to help them transition to independent living.

Jay Thoreson, former director of Concordia’s Career Center and now the outreach manager of the New Life Center, believes in the value of Giving Hearts Day to their mission.

“The New Life Center is kind of an untold story in the area. If we can bring more awareness to what it is we do and the life change that takes place here, then we can get more community support for the efforts of what we’re trying to do but then also, perhaps, more compassion for the homeless and help alleviate [those issues] as a community as well,” Thoreson said.

According to Thoreson and John Brunsberg, the New Life Center’s volunteer Capital Campaign chair, the New Life Center had a $150,000 match going into Giving Hearts Day, which was reached quickly, with a final total of approximately $338,000. 727 people donated, 191 more individual donors than last year.

All of the money earned on Giving Hearts Day goes toward the New Life Center’s Capital Campaign, which is currently in its second of five phases. According to Thoreson, the campaign, titled Mission 2.0, will remodel their current facility that houses an average of over 120 men each night and expand their potential in creating a safe but appealing environment and resources.

Participating non-profits of Giving Hearts Day cover a wide range of interests, including the arts. The Arts Partnership of Fargo is a nonprofit promoting many art forms through partnering with approximately 140 local art organizations. They seek to support local art, create festivals, fund grants, and much more. They are ranked as a small-budget nonprofit, taking first place last year in donations. This year, through social media, blog posts, and personal letters, The Arts Partnership raised $174,000 from donors in the community.

Dayna Del Val, CEO and president of The Arts Partnership, is not only passionate about the arts, but also believes Giving Hearts Day is a great day for the people who are involved with these nonprofits.

“I like the spirit of unity in the nonprofit sector that comes from one big day of giving,” Del Val said.

While Concordia and many other nonprofits that participated in Giving Hearts Day exceeded their previous donations and goals, community involvement cannot be emphasized enough, as it is people who make the donations to the nonprofits each year.

Audra Freeman, office manager of Concordia’s Facilities Management and a member of the Campus Giving Partners committee, is a regular giver to charities and uses Giving Hearts Day as an opportunity to research and give to some of the lesser-known organizations on the long, public list of participating nonprofits released by the DMF every year.

While this year’s Giving Hearts Day has come and gone, Freeman hopes that Concordia students will be motivated by the numbers and prepare to give next year.

“Anyone in the community can donate to all kinds of organizations,” she said. “So, as far as how students can participate, as long as we get the word out and they know that Concordia is one of the benefactors of the event, they just have to go that day and log-in to the Giving Hearts Day website and make a donation. It’s really easy.”

 

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