Giving Hearts Day: A decade of giving

Written by: Fargo Inc Staff

Giving Hearts Day Turns 10!

When Dakota Medical Foundation’s Giving Hearts day started in 2008, not even its founders could’ve imagined what it would become.

With the region’s largest single-day, charitable-giving event turning 10 years old this year, we caught up with DMF President Pat Traynor and a few local organizations who plan to #GoMatchyMatchy on February 9.

Dakota Medical Foundation

Giving Hearts Day_Pat Traynor

Pat Trainer, President & CEO – Dakota Medical Foundation

What has the evolution of this event been like, on your end?
Traynor “In the first year, 2008, we had a little less than 40 charities that participated and 1,500 contributions. Last year, we had more than 325 charities involved and more than 35,000 contributions. That is tremendous growth.

“On top of that, about 25-30 percent of donors, on average, are brand new to a charity on Giving Hearts Day. If you’re in sales and you get that many new customers, that’s huge! And what’s the fuel for nonprofits? Volunteers, money and people. If you have 100 contributions and 30 of those are brand new? That’s a really big deal.

“The more friends that charities have, the greater good they can achieve in the community. We are so proud because it’s the charities that make this day happen. If they’re not implementing proven techniques to engage people, it doesn’t work.

“We always want to deflect and make sure that the credit goes to the charities that are doing a great job with marketing, branding, engaging and crafting their stories.

“We’re incredibly proud of all the charities. It’s been a real blessing to watch them become spectacular at generating new revenue and new ideas for how to do Giving Hearts Day. A lot of them astound us with the creativity.

“We’ve seen polar plunges, people jumping on trampolines, people suspending themselves on the roofs of buildings. There’s some cool stuff that goes on. There’s so much good that happens as a part of this day. You have kids learning, you have charities building their capacity to serve and you have givers who are experiencing the joy of giving. And that’s addictive.”

Giving Hearts Day_Charity Pool

What do you see as the role of the FM business community in Giving Hearts Day  and how can it get even more involved going forward?
Traynor “First, there have been a few businesses that have been instrumental—SCHEELS with their SCHEELS Challenge, where they challenge 20-some local charities to get 100 percent of their board to give $10 or more, and if they do, SCHEELS gives each organization a few thousand dollars.

“Gate City Bank, of course, has been a huge supporter, and they’ve gone above and beyond in terms of creativity and how they get their whole team involved. Emerging Prairie has engaged a ton of tech businesses around town.

“DMF doesn’t have the staff to engage every business in town, and so we want to help employers that want to be involved look for ways that make sense for them to be involved. And we’re not just going out to hit them up for money. We’re trying to engage them in the idea of volunteering and giving and supporting any kind of charity.

“It’s about being a charitable champion and being a business of choice for people who want to do business with an employer that cares about the community. Same with the employee side. In today’s tight labor market, you want to be an employer that’s seen as community-minded and that encourages employees to be involved in things like charity.”

 By the Numbers – Giving Hearts Day
$30.9 million – Total dollars raised on Giving Hearts Day since its inception
$270,000+ – Incentive prizes given in 2015
19% – Increase in donation from 2015 to 2016
90% – Donations that come from N.D. & Minn.
326 – Charities that participated in Giving Hearts Day 2016

Some 2017 Participants
Hatch Realty & Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley

Giving Hearts Day_Hatch Ronald McDonaldGiving Hearts Day_Jill Christopher

Jill Christopher, Executive Director – Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley

As a nonprofit, what do business-nonprofit relationships mean to your organization?
Christopher “In terms of Giving Hearts Day, I think the part that’s cool is that there are so many options Hatch Realty could choose. And so for them to choose us, it really means a lot that they’ve connected to our mission and that they really understand the difference that these partnerships make to the families we serve. To see that support in the community and for people to believe in your mission is really fantastic.”

“The day really creates an awareness that really reminds people that their donations make a difference and that there’s a family on the other side that sees the benefit of everything.”

Giving Hearts Day_Melanie Lee

Melanie Lee, Hatch Alumni Director – Hatch Realty

Why does Hatch Realty think it’s important to be involved in charitable giving?
Lee “I really see it as an opportunity to open the door and connect. Giving Hearts Day is a perfect opportunity to do just that. We talk all the time about how we can multiply our giving and multiply our impact. Yes, we’re already doing things, but there’s so much more we can do. It’s about not having a limited mindset.

“I think this is an opportunity for us to get more involved, learn more about organizations that maybe we didn’t know existed, build more relationships and then maintain those relationships. It’s not just a one-day thing.

“It’s about getting to know an organization and then actually getting involved. As a team, we volunteer once a month at the Dorothy Day House and we want to do more things like that. One of our agents is a mother of a one-year-old, and she just contacted a local nursing home and she and her son are going to go into a nursing home and volunteer weekly. They couldn’t believe she wanted to take her one-year-old into a nursing home every week, but it’s something we prioritize.”

As one of six scheduled events in 2017, on Giving Hearts Day, Hatch Realty will be hosting an event at their office that is open to the public at which people can stop by, enjoy pizza and drinks, and be entered into a drawing to win $500 to donate to a charity of their choice.

Leading up to February 9, Hatch invites you to help them promote Giving Hearts Day with the hashtag #GoMatchyMatchyWithHatchy

Melanie, in the spirit of Giving Hearts Day, tell readers about the creative way a Hatch team member recently helped out a local nonprofit.
Lee “So one of our agents and his girlfriend posted a status on Facebook on behalf of the YWCA, and in his own sense of humor, he said, ‘The YWCA had a pipe burst. They’re out of diapers. There are a lot of bare baby booties out there. For every share of this status, my girlfriend and I will donate a box of diapers for every share and a diaper for every ‘like.’’ (See below)

Giving Hearts Day_Kyle-Reedstrom-Facebook

“Well, the status ended up with like 500-some shares and something around that, too, for ‘likes.’ So it ended up being more than 10,000 diapers that they ended up buying out of their own pockets. They called Costco and let them know, borrowed a big truck from Habitat for Humanity and brought them over to the YWCA.

“We still have people mailing us diapers or ordering them on Amazon and shipping them to our office.”

Christopher: “It’s stuff like that that gives people ideas. You don’t have to just write a check. You can motivate others to give as well.”

Lee: “Especially to reach younger generations. We’re all about that—having some creativity. It’s about: How can we think outside the box? We firmly believe that playing small doesn’t do the world any favors.”

 By the Numbers – Giving Hearts Day
– Communities across N.D. & Minn. that participate
200+ – Local charities that have learned to better tell their story
2011  – First year Giving Hearts Day donations exceeded $1 million
$148.46 – Average gift in 2016
37,139  – Individual donations in 2016
$8,309,559 – Amount raised in 2016

Gate City Bank  YWCA Cass ClayGiving Hearts Day_Gate City BankGiving Hearts Day_Erin Prochnow

Erin Prochnow, Executive Director – YWCA Cass Clay

What does it mean to have an organization like Gate City Bank behind you on Giving Hearts Day?
Prochnow “It takes all of us in the community to make our organization function and work. We know that it costs $43 a day to provide a night of shelter to a woman or her child. That’s what we’ve calculated our services to be just for emergency shelter services.

“Philanthropic organizations like Gate City Bank are just gems in our community. I would tell you that having had their support since the 1980s at our organization and building on that support over the course of time has been tremendously helpful. They’ve not only invested in our work. They’ve put boots on the ground, in terms of employee volunteers.

“They’ve invested in shelter with their time and their talent but also in our supportive services—our education employment program, our shelter-faith community nurse program, our supportive housing program. And so they understand what we do, and I believe that they have invested because they, like us, believe it’s important to provide safety and opportunity for women to move forward.”

How does the relationship go beyond Giving Hearts Day?
Prochnow “Ironically, Kim (Meyer) was on our board of directors and hired me almost nine years ago. She was the chair of the hiring committee. We have continual involvement from Gate City Bank, from people who serve on committees to events at different points in the year.

“We had 15 Gate City Bank Santa hats done at the shelter in December, helping make Christmas a little brighter. But it goes beyond holidays and big events. We know that they are a supporter and have a belief in providing the best for women and children and providing an opportunity for people who face horrific circumstances and challenges but at the same time understand that there can be transformation, hope and inspiration.”

Giving Hearts Day_Kim Meyer

Kim Meyer, EVP, Director of Retail Banking & HR – Gate City Bank

What’s the history of the relationship between Gate City Bank and the YWCA?
Meyer “We know it’s important to have healthy, vibrant communities. Our CEO, Steve Swiontek, is a big part of how our relationship started with the YWCA. It was Steve who saw a need at the shelter more than 10 years ago and started with the “Building Hope” campaign with a low-interest loan. And then it just blossomed from there.

“Like Erin said, whether it’s security, the nurse, or transitional housing, we now have a Gate City Bank economic-enrichment wing at the YWCA that helps women to be gainfully employed. You can’t find a job these days without a computer, and so we helped get them a great computer lab there.”

How is Giving Hearts Day important to getting your employees involved with these types of causes beyond the day itself?
Meyer “I look at Giving Hearts Day as an offshoot of the bank’s “Acts of Kindness” program, which we do 365 days a year. And it’s part of our culture. It’s part of our culture to give back. We’re all about a better way of life for our communities, our customers, our employees, and this is just one more way to do it.

Giving Hearts Day_Giving Hearts Chart

Gate City Bank on Giving Hearts Day
• In 2016, will give $55,000 total throughout the state of North Dakota
• This year, will donate 22 $2,500 gifts to organizations nominated by the public and Gate City customers—nominations can be done at Gate City branches or online
• In last three years, Gate City Bank has given more than $150,000 on Giving Hearts Day

“Whether it’s DMF or it’s the YWCA, they have the same mission we do, and it’s about making our communities better.”

Both your organizations have been involved with Giving Hearts for a number of years. What’s it been like watching the event grow?
Prochnow “We’re just appreciative of the opportunity to participate in Giving Hearts Day and the enormity of what the event has become.

“It’s incredible how the community has wrapped their arms around something, an opportunity of giving and philanthropy,that DMF has provided. And we’re just incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. And they’ve made it fun.

Meyer “To see the progress is just remarkable, in terms of the steps DMF has taken and all the new organizations they’ve brought in—statewide and into Minnesota as well.

Prochnow “And to make it fresh and real and different each year. This year’s theme is really fun and energetic, and an organization like ours that deals with some of the things that we do, it can be more emotional and difficult to talk about, and yet we still fit in. We can tell that emotional story and talk about the trials and tribulations that people have faced but also talk about hope and opportunity to change and better their lives.”

 By the Numbers – Giving Hearts Day
– Donations that come from outside N.D. & Minn.
$20,000 – Donation dollar per minute during peak giving hours
360 – N.D. & Minn. charities to choose from
$325,000 – Amount raised in 2008, the event’s first year
$2,440 – Average number of online donations per minute

To get involved with Giving Hearts Day 2017, visit

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