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Insider’s Look: The Year-Long Story of Fargo’s Giving Hearts Day

See what really goes into Giving Hearts Day, a local and regional initiative a year in the making!

Giving Hearts Day, an initiative proudly organized by Dakota Medical Foundation in Fargo, ND, is our region’s most powerful display of community and philanthropy. This event captivates countless individuals’ hearts each year, encouraging them to contribute to various charitable causes. In this annual Fargo Monthly issue in partnership with Dakota Medical Foundation, we will unfold a 12-month journey with a behind-the-scenes look at the meticulous preparations by the Giving Hearts Day team. The timeline we’ve put together showcases the dedication and hard work that goes into orchestrating this monumental day of giving, showing how every action, big or small, culminates in a powerful display of generosity and community spirit. Keep reading to explore the milestones and strategic planning that make Giving Hearts Day the heart-warming, hopeful, unifying event in the FM area and beyond.

”Our entire team is committed to Giving Hearts Day and all that goes in to it because the charities that participate are so important to our region. The charities put so much work in to not only their Giving Hearts Day campaigns but also their missions that are changing lives and making this the best region to call home. We all truly consider it an honor to support them and all the good they do!"

Giving Hearts Day Prep Timeline

 

1. Day After Giving Hearts Day to Early Spring

Key Focus: Celebration & Data Analysis

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The GHD team’s journey begins right after Giving Hearts Day (which doesn’t end until sometimes 2:00 a.m.), coming in the Friday after for physical clean up, a quick headcount, and a team pat on the back; and if they’re lucky, they’ll get out a little early to kickstart their well-deserved, restful weekend.

Post-GHD, the team enters a period of celebration, like the grand finale of a show, they honor the remarkable efforts of nonprofits and the community’s involvement—as well as celebrate their own efforts after a year in the making. They award a number of charities with accolades, acknowledgments, and more. But, this period is not just about applause, it’s also when the team is crunching the year’s numbers. They start their surveying efforts for valuable insights, setting the stage for next year’s strategy.

Meet the team!​

Amanda Sayre, Chief Programs Officer As the chief strategy officer, Amanda steers the strategic direction and oversees the technical logistics for Giving Hearts Day, while promoting the annual training and events leading up to the event.

Online, charities’ successes are celebrated by sharing messages of gratitude for the charities and businesses involved in creating a meaningful day. Everyone on the team assists with immediate post-GHD operations like analyzing final numbers, delivering awards to charities and businesses, and more. Those who work on the media side focus on organizing and archiving the material developed for the event and creating recap content to use online, while also creating graphics with the year’s total numbers. They begin to create any graphics with information for the next year during this time, and they also work to reorganize the year’s files and prep any graphics for GHD awards.

The team also spends this period helping charities understand how
to reconcile their donation records, answering any questions about donations, and kickstarting the surveys to be sent out to gather important information from charities.

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They are congratulating businesses, charities, members, and fundholders on another day full of giving, after the final reporting and documentation of GHD numbers across different categories is done. It’s important for the entire GHD team to recognize and celebrate another year, while still getting those crucial numbers to the community.

Along with crunching final numbers, another important “last” or “first” step depending on how you look at it, is updating the website with information, resources, and tools for the next Giving Hearts Day. It may seem like an extreme turnaround, and that’s because it is!

After the numbers are analyzed and the awards are given, there is a brief moment of lull that some of the team takes advantage of. There are a few weeks during this time of the year that the staff will usually take off to recharge before jumping fully in again. It’s vaca-central at DMF!

2. March-April: Spring Season

Key Focus: Report Gathering

As the flowers bloom, so do fresh ideas at the GHD headquarters. This time is marked by dynamic strategy sessions where the team collaborates to hatch innovative plans for the next event. They meticulously analyze surveyed feedback and data from a variety of nonprofit sectors, transforming them into actionable strategies. The insights gathered in the spring will fuel brainstorming sessions to lead the planning and execution of the year’s goals for Giving Hearts Day.

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“We read every single survey response and implement as many things as we can from their suggestions,” Operational Excellence Leader Jessica Offerman said. “Giving Hearts Day has evolved and changed and a lot of the best ideas have come from the charities themselves!”

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Those on the team in charge of tech begin to run reports to track the success as well as the growth of GHD, looking for places where they can improve the website (which includes 100,000 visits on GHD) for both charity and donor experiences.

Meet the team!

Jessica Offerman, Operational Excellence Leader Jessica is the primary contact for charities that participate in Giving Hearts Day and helps coordinate overall GHD logistics and DMF internal operations.

3. May-August: Summer Season

Key Focus: Engagement, Planning, & Innovation

Summer brings a buzz of activity with ongoing charity engagement and the charity application process. It’s a crucial time for the team to plan their media presence and fall and winter strategy, as well as implement some of the enhancements to the website for a better user experience.

Meet the team!

Matt Ohren, Technical Lead Matt builds and maintains web applications and technologies that benefit DMF and its initiatives, including Giving Hearts Day

The team is working on the major build during this time, which could be a new feature or overhauling something old.

“A lot of our work here is generally charity- orientated and done in May and June. We start registration for GHD in late June so whenever we add or update a feature, we need to consider time for Jess, Nate, and Amanda to update the guides and tutorials,” Technical Lead Matt Ohren said.

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“The summer season is our prime time for ideation,” Multimedia Lead Evan Balko said. “It’s when we start coming up with our marketing plans and ideas, and then we can really start putting our plans into motion.”

The team also preps the copy and creates graphics to inform the charities about registration as the online portal gets ready to open.

Typically, the summer is filled with planning what the team wants to do differently in the coming year so that they can start getting their productions put together, people scheduled, and begin to come up with solutions to the creative challenges that come along the way.

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After the team finalizes the GHD application for all charities applying to participate that year and it goes live, applicants are driven to the site to apply through online efforts by the team.

The crew then organizes phone calls with every first-time charity that applies to review the policies and criteria and ensure that they are a legitimate nonprofit in good standing with the IRS and that they have the organizational capacity to run a successful Giving Hearts Day campaign.

“With over 60 new charities in GHD 2024, these calls usually take up a good chunk of the summer,” Jessica said. “This also helps new charities know who they can contact with questions over the next few months and is one of my favorite parts of the year—we get to meet new organizations and add them to our GHD charity network.”

Following, the team sends out all accepted new and returning participating organizations the necessary “next steps” information for being part of Giving Hearts Day—such as setting up a profile page on the site, connecting a bank account to the site, and registering for orientation and Kick-Off training sessions.

Did you know?
The GHD team does eight in-person trainings in addition to recording a virtual on-demand version for charities to create ease of access for all involved!

In the summer season, the team plans for the Kick-Off in September, updating training materials and preparing any other designed materials. For some, this time does offer a chance to breathe and think thoughtfully about next year’s plans.

To prep for the next season, the team plans the charity training itineraries and logistics, including the campaign field manual and calendar with key dates, as well as the monthly learning series. Any virtual or physical materials are designed for participants from these plans so that they are ready to be shared or printed for the training start in the fall.

At the same time, the team works on general online GHD promotion and updating any resources for businesses and schools with new dates for the next Giving Hearts Day.

4. September-November: Fall Season

Key Focus: Comprehensive Training

As autumn sets in, the team focuses on empowering charities through comprehensive training sessions. These workshops, which are held not only in Fargo but all over the state of North Dakota as well as virtually, are not just informational but also interactive, designed to equip nonprofits with the latest tools and strategies. They also serve as a unique place for nonprofits
to network and share useful information—even though they may serve different groups, they all have a similar goal.

Referencing the gathered reports with charity data, the team makes the final preparations before training begins. They look for feedback and suggestions from the gathered information to ensure quality training, like training topics that were suggested by the charities to add to the agenda for example. The crew then travels their way around the region providing Kick-Off training for the charities.

Meet the Team!​

Evan Balko, Multimedia Lead Evan’s key role in Giving Hearts Day as the multimedia lead, involves overseeing all media production, including managing a live broadcast, ensuring technical setups are flawless, and coordinating content creation for the event and its promotion.

At this time, logistical to-dos are being checked off the charity’s list—like creating a profile page on the site and connecting their page to a bank account for donations to be directly deposited.

The team creates any content for email communication sent to charities to guide them in the months leading up to GHD, including announcements, contest details, due date reminders, and campaign tips.

Members work with the new charities to get them accustomed to the process and refresh returning charities on the same. This is also when the entire GHD team works together to nail down their messaging for the upcoming campaign.

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At the same time, the team also works on similar tasks with businesses involved with GHD, like planning Business Lunch & Learns and meeting with fundholders to help with GHD fundraising plans and execution.

Some describe the fall as a “ramp- up time,” where content creation and working with agencies to create a general buzz intensify the work.

Ad-related projects are worked on at this time to prepare for the oncoming season, like finalizing GHD ads for local media or designing a skyway wrap to promote the event.

Meet the Team!​

Kelly Barbot, Design Lead As the design lead, Kelly’s primary role with Giving Hearts Day is to create engaging visual content and ads, while also assisting with various tasks and supporting the team as needed.

While training is in full swing, the technology and software updates are beginning to take shape from their initial planning in the summer. With the donor experience at the forefront of their minds, that team will examine the donation portal.

“This year, we added two exciting ways to let us know you helped out a charity. Along with monetary donations, you can let us know how you volunteered or donated goods,” Matt said. “Hats off to our recently hired Software Developer Jordan Amberg (2023 NDSU graduate), for building the tool. He took ownership and built something awesome.”

5. December-January: Harvest Season

Key Focus: Community Mobilization & Operational Readiness

In the harvest season, the team kicks into high gear, ramping up community engagement and fine- tuning operational plans. This period is a blend of strategic media campaigns planned in the summertime and meticulous planning to ensure a seamless day come February. The T-shirts are arriving, the business kits are being put together, the media charge is full steam ahead, and operational readiness is the focal point of almost everyone on the team.

While the fall time is spent training charities, at this point, the team transitions into online public engagement by introducing charities and their missions through brief on-site interviews. The crew is full steam ahead with online strategies including, sharing the many ways to give (through donation, volunteering, and giving goods); promoting how individuals, businesses, and schools can be involved; and in January, pushing out messages on early giving options.

Did you know?
You don’t have to wait until the big day to give! You can donate to any of the charities now on the Giving Hearts Day website at givingheartsday.org!

The team focuses on quality, making sure the GHD site is ready for the high day-of traffic by simulating traffic 10-20 times the amount usually seen on Giving Hearts Day, then they can see any point on the system that shows signs of stress and fix it. The site is locked in by January and then monitored throughout the month, comparing its reports to years prior.

Media is at its busiest point of the year at this time—content creation and work with other media partners on content for the promotion of GHD, of course, involves many meetings and follow-ups.

Meet the Team!​

Riley Boese, Digital and Operations Lead Riley handles social media, digital marketing, and various operations tasks, involving everything from distributing resources to GHD businesses to keeping track of GHD T-shirt inventory.

While the team still crushes through the creation of numerous projects, this is the same time that they begin to check things off their list, creating a mix of stress and satisfaction in completing tasks during this hectic period.

The chunk of training is completed, but the team is still working on continued learning for charities and businesses. Members work with new charities to prepare them in all capacities for their first GHD, as well as continuing conversations with returning charities about any differences from past years. They are also answering any donor questions about ways to give. Monthly learning series sessions for charities, as well as Lunch and Learns for businesses are held, and the team continues meeting with fundholders for GHD plans and execution. At this time, the team begins to prepare day- of volunteers as they get closer to the month of February.

There are a lot of to-do lists finding their checks at this time across the team, as well as the start of the all-hands-on-deck mentality, meaning if someone has the capacity and means, they might step in to help out with a project.

6. February: Crunch Time

Key Focus: Final Preparations & Event Home Stretch

February is the home stretch, where every detail is ironed out before the big day. The team is fully engaged, making sure that all systems are a-go for Giving Hearts Day. The intensity and excitement are palpable, this adrenaline-packed period is full of anticipation and last-minute preparations. But, heads are still down finishing tasks for the day or in the midst of executing media strategies.

For some of the crew, February is like a more focused January. The team works to push out those last-minute reminders online, providing messaging for the day’s expectations. They also answer questions and provide customer services for charities and donors, while pushing important information out.

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“[I] send information for the day after Giving Hearts Day that charities need,” Jessica said, “such as how to reconcile their donations, how to contact our team with any questions, and encourage them to celebrate their success (and get a nap)!”

Meet the Team!

Emily Jones, As Development Director, Emily leads the management of the charitable giving funds and membership programs. She also assists in charity training, business engagements, and organizational system processes.

“During the ‘home stretch’ before GHD, my time will be spent making sure all businesses, fundholders, members, and volunteers that I work with have everything they need to thrive the week of and on GHD, as well as any other additional prep-work with our team to make sure GHD runs seamlessly,” Development Director Emily Jones said.

7. Week-of and Day-of Giving Hearts Day

Key Focus: Execution & Celebration

The final week is a whirlwind, with the team managing a multitude of tasks, from media interviews to event coordination. On the day of the event, it’s a grand celebration of giving and community spirit.

While everyone’s day of duties may look different, it’s spearheaded by Chief Programs Officer Amanda Sayre.

It’s an early kick-off, with the team monitoring the site all day, watching the traffic increase and ensuring that the donations are properly processed. A small army of volunteers helps with entering check donations, coordinating media interviews, keeping everyone fed, and answering the phones.

“I am at the office at 6:00 a.m. and crack the first of many energy drinks (an orange Celsius is my go-to), I have a personal mini-fridge stocked with them,” Matt said. “I’ll be in the office until around 2:30 a.m. Friday morning verifying the results from the day.”

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The team is continuously, eagerly sharing snippets about events and activities both locally and throughout the state, as well as sharing updates on giving numbers as the day goes on. Everyone, donors, charities, and volunteers included, helps to create the excited online voice highlighting the ways the communities are celebrating.

The team has points of contact for charities, providing customer service for all the charities to make sure every single question and phone call is answered as quickly as possible. They also monitor questions from the call center related to any donor issues with their gift.

“My role is basically making sure no question falls through the cracks so that all of the 600 plus charities that participate have the support they need that day, and assist community members who stop by the DMF building to drop off checks for charities.”

“My day of duties for GHD have changed from year to year,” Emily said. “In the past, I have been a volunteer lead, check entry lead. I also assist with any additional needs that arise.”

Some of the team is similar to that, having different day-of roles each year, be it helping with social media posts, decorating, or taking photos—while others have more specific duties on the day.

This year, some of the team’s focus on GHD will be managing the schedule and groups that will be utilizing the atrium stage for interviews, performances, and check presentations. “And, of course, wherever else help is needed!”

The team is excited to debut a new addition to the itinerary this year as Giving Hearts Day will have its own TV broadcast through WDAY. This is an exciting new addition to the GHD itinerary, as they usually have parts of the day streamed, but never before their own segment on a local channel. With this development, comes new duties and even more excitement for the team!

This broadcast is a significant component of the day’s events, and the team’s day will be consumed by the many parts of it, starting early in the morning and continuing until the event’s conclusion—ensuring that everything is functioning for the live broadcast so that the viewers can have a real-time look at the showcased event and the work of the charities, donors, businesses, and community involved.

Watch the Giving Hearts Day team share live updates, interviews, and more on February 8 from 6:30-8 p.m. on WDAY!

And, we’re back to the beginning, to the day after Giving Hearts Day, with the team meeting at the Dakota Medical Foundation office for cleanup and cheers. They’ll prep for the next 12 months to do it all over again, but not without analyzing past successes and challenges, implementing more strategies and updates, and impacting even more charities through this massive giveback.

Learn more at givingheartsday.org, follow along on Facebook and Instagram at @givingheartsday, and mark your calendars for Giving Hearts Day 2024 on February 8!

Digital Donations

A Fresh, Interactive Approach to Donating and Participating in Giving Hearts Day

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Check out the three different ways to give back to your community on the Giving Hearts Day website!

In an era where digital innovation shapes our everyday interactions, Giving Hearts Day has leaped forward, embracing technology to broaden the horizons of charity and community involvement. It’s clear that Giving Hearts Day is not just an event; it’s a movement, constantly evolving to meet the needs of a diverse community.

A standout feature in this year’s GHD is the introduction of a new tool on their website for donations and tracking giving on the day of the event. This innovative feature transforms the way we can give as well as the way we can visualize giving back to our community. In addition to tracking monetary donations, individuals can now easily locate places to drop off goods and record their donations, as well as record their volunteered time.

This tool opens doors for more people to participate in the charity event by offering what they can, be it goods or time, furthering the event’s commitment to making charitable acts accessible and straightforward for everyone.

Accompanying this feature is a blend of technology and creativity—a QR code. Once people visit the locations to drop off their donations, they’ll see a cute mascot with the code.

This isn’t just a cute addition; it’s a functional tool that allows donors to record their contributions. By scanning the QR code, individuals can proudly register their donations, adding them to the event’s growing list of contributions that are immediately updated on the GHD website. So as donations and volunteer time are recorded on the site, the grand total of “giving” that is usually made up of only monetary donations will increase, showcasing all of the different ways to give. This transparent and interactive approach not only acknowledges every form of giving but also fosters a sense of community and shared purpose. The timing of this launch is as strategic as it is exciting. Having gone live around the beginning of January, in line with the early giving season, it’s a perfect kick-start to a season of generosity. This new feature is more than just a tool; it’s a conversation starter, a way to engage the community right from the year’s beginning and keep the momentum going through the giving event.

As we look ahead, it’s clear that these website developments are set to revolutionize the way we engage with charity. Giving Hearts Day is leading the charge, showing us that the future of giving is inclusive, interactive, and innovative!

Featured Giving Hearts Day Charities

In our community, Giving Hearts Day has become a pivotal event, significantly impacting local and regional charities. Let’s meet and hear from a handful of these charities, revealing how this annual day of giving fosters meaningful change!

Veterans Honor Flight of North Dakota/Minnesota

The Veterans Honor Flight of ND/MN is a 501c3 non-profit, 100% volunteer organization that takes Veterans to Washington, D.C. free of charge to visit the memorials built in their honor.

Mission: To Celebrate America’s Veterans by inviting them to share in a day of honor at the nation’s memorials.

"Now in our 6th year of participation, Giving Hearts Day has provided Veterans Honor Flight of North Dakota/Minnesota tremendous exposure to businesses and members of the community that might not have heard of our mission. In addition, in 2023, GHD donations covered the costs for 86 Veterans to travel to see their memorials. Each trip has over 100 Veterans, and the more donations we can get help cover the costs for all our Veterans."

4-6-3 Foundation

“We lost Liam on February 1, 2021, to suicide… Liam was an athlete, a Boy Scout, a great student, a kind friend, and a leader… there were no symptoms or red flags. Our hearts are broken, but Liam lived his life big in his short 15 years… and we felt we owed him our energy to carry on his legacy by helping other kids and families avoid the nightmare that we have endured.”

Through tragedy, hope. Together, the 463 Foundation, Dakota Medical Foundation, and the greater Fargo community; are working to elevate conversations around youth mental health and suicide prevention. Through a focused and proactive effort on working directly with the youth, coaches, parents, teachers, and others in our community, the 463 Foundation is facing head on the mental health and youth suicide epidemic with connection to education, resources, and tools. Together, we can Reduce Stigma, Build Hope, and End Suicide.

"Giving Hearts Day is our biggest day of fundraising each year and as an all-volunteer organization, all money raised goes directly to programs and youth-focused initiatives. Giving Hearts Day not only helps us raise the funds needed to offer our talks and resources to schools and organizations for free, but it also brings in volunteers and brings awareness to people in the community that we are here, actively fighting against this epidemic of youth suicide, through our talks, education programs, the Shine the Light Mental Health Film Festival, and the Liam G. Medd Memorial Baseball and Fastpitch Tournament held each year right here in our community."

Learn more at 463foundation.org
Facebook | / 4 6 3 Foundation

Great Plains Food Bank

Started in 1983, the Great Plains Food Bank is the only food bank in the state of North Dakota and it services the entire state and Clay County, MN. The Great Plains Food Bank works hard each day to recover food that otherwise would go to waste from grocery stores, retailers, manufacturers, and growers and then distributes that food to those in need through a range of direct service programs and a network of 200 partner food pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens.

Through its mission to end hunger together and through its values of passion, service, and innovation, the Great Plains Food Bank will distribute more than 9.5 million meals to over 144,000 individuals in a single year. Of those 144,000 individuals, 36% are children.

"Giving Hearts Day is our single biggest giving day of the year and is something we not only look forward to but count on as a crucial piece to help feed hungry neighbors across North Dakota and Clay County, MN. We are so appreciative to those who give from their heart on this special day.”

Hope Blooms

Hope Blooms is a budding nonprofit that focuses on the social and emotional well-being of some of our most vulnerable community members who feel forgotten through a beautiful but simple message of “You matter.” Hope Blooms spreads joy and fosters belonging by creating bedside bouquets and delivering them to community members in need, including individuals in hospice care, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and assisted living, memory care centers, shelters, recovery centers, and more.

The program is intentionally designed to be accessible to everyone, ensuring that every individual can find joy and fulfillment.

They are community builders at heart, who believe small acts of kindness can change the world—and we’re on a mission to do just that.

“We help people feel loved, and hopeful and provide much-needed emotional healing in their time of need.”

"Not every act of kindness needs to be a big, extravagant act, a lot of joy comes from the little surprises. The value of Hope Blooms comes in the moments when people are not asking or expecting it. When you receive joy in this way it hits a lot differently. It feels like it’s serving a layer of our life experience that doesn’t get served in other ways of nonprofit giving."

Learn more at hopeblooms.org
Facebook | /hopebloomsnd
Instagram | @hopebloomsnd

Jasmin Child Care and Preschool

Jasmin Child Care and Preschool Center equips kids for academic success and offers quality affordable care for parents working both day and night shifts. Jasmin serves families with kids ages 6 weeks to 12 years. Jasmin’s holistic and culturally honoring approach provides additional support to families coming from diverse backgrounds. Jasmin has served the FM area for over nine years. Through community collaboration, Jasmin strives to serve the FM area community to make a difference in the lives of young children who may have barriers to opportunities that will lead to a successful life.

"Giving Hearts Day has helped Jasmin Child Care and Preschool gain more exposure about our work to the Fargo-Moorhead community. We have also gained many more volunteers. Giving Hearts Day gives us the opportunity to feel a part of this community."

Valley Senior Services Inc.

Valley Senior Services (VSS) is dedicated to enhancing the lives of seniors aged 60 and above, empowering them to maintain independence and optimal health within the comfort of their homes. With a history spanning over five decades, VSS provides invaluable services to seniors throughout the Red River Valley. They assist thousands of seniors annually through a range of services, including the delivery of nourishing daily meals via Meals on Wheels or community dining opportunities, fostering social connections and friendships at local senior centers, facilitating transportation to and from appointments, and connecting seniors with vital support resources.

"Giving Hearts Day is a true blessing to Valley Senior Services. Over the years, this event has proven to be a lifeline, opening doors to new opportunities for the seniors we serve by ensuring financial support for our mission. This critical support allows us to extend care to seniors who, due to financial constraints, may not otherwise have access to the services they require. The significance of Giving Hearts Day goes beyond monetary contributions. It serves as a powerful vehicle for raising awareness about the necessary services we provide, with a spotlight on Meals on Wheels. We are able to provide Meals on Wheels because of the support from this community. Without the attention Giving Hearts Day brings, this program may not be as successful. This exposure is instrumental in recruiting volunteers who play a pivotal role in delivering meals to our clients. Volunteers not only deliver nutritious meals but also provide vital social interaction for seniors who may be isolated. The personal touch and friendly visits contribute to the overall well-being of the recipients as well as a wellness check!"

Plains Art Museum

Plains Art Museum (PAM) began as the Red River Art Center in 1965 in what is now the Rourke Art Museum + Gallery, Moorhead, MN. PAM acquired its present name in 1975 and moved to its current home in downtown Fargo in 1997. Plains Art Museum is the only accredited art museum in the state of North Dakota, a status granted to only 3% of museums across the nation. Since 2017, Plains Art Museum has been general admission FREE as part of its commitment to accessibility.

The Museum serves the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo metro, numerous rural communities throughout eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, and many national and international visitors through an ambitious roster of exhibitions, programs, and events. PAM offers 12-24 major and smaller exhibitions each year. These exhibitions primarily feature art of the 20th and 21st centuries. The Museum also offers many community classes, including ceramics, printmaking, watercolor, acrylics, oils, and more. Plains Art Museum has strong educational programming with programs specific for families, established artists, beginner artists, indigenous youth, people with Autism, rural teachers and their students, and more. PAM is a community art museum that is committed to the idea that art is for everyone.

"Being involved in Giving Hearts Day for Plains Art Museum has been extremely important to our success and our ability to contribute back to the area in a way that focuses on our mission of fostering creative, resilient, and welcoming communities. Each gift helps us continue this mission and allows everyone who donates to also be a part of the success story. Because of our donors, we have not only been able to stay admission-free, but we have continuously been able to fund other crucial initiatives, expand our educational programs, and enhance the overall experience at the Museum for the FM community and beyond. We also strive to be a resource for the community in being a safe place for our visitors to think, learn, and be themselves. It’s an important part of our space in the downtown atmosphere and we appreciate all the support day to day, especially on Giving Hearts Day."

Learn more at plainsart.org
Facebook | /plainsartmuseum
Instagram | @plainsartmuseum

Homeward Animal Shelter

Homeward Animal Shelter is a local and community-funded, non-profit animal shelter. Its mission is: “Rescue. Shelter. Protect. Rehome.” It provides a second chance at happiness to lost, abandoned, and owner-surrendered animals and educates the community in the proper, loving, and kind treatment of animals. Homeward Animal Shelter is committed to preventing animal overpopulation and spays/neuters all animals 6 months or older before adoption. Since its inception in 1966, Homeward Animal Shelter has placed over 41,000 animals in lifelong homes.

"Participating in Giving Hearts Day (GHD) through the years has given us a wonderful opportunity to be part of an incredible day of giving. Each year, we reach new members of our community and region, allowing us to raise funds to continue to provide loving care for over 1,000 animals. Thank you, Dakota Medical Foundation and GHD donors!”

Fargo Moorhead Opera

The mission of the Fargo Moorhead Opera is to enrich the region with distinctive, exceptional artistic programming that will engage and excite audiences of all ages.

"Fargo-Moorhead Opera not only entertains the region with the best in theatrical presentations, but it also sets out to partner with community leaders, educators, other professionals, and affiliate organizations to make the community better by integrating the arts. The arts serve as a powerful tool for self-expression, helping everyone articulate and communicate in better ways, promoting progress, empathy, and education."

Learn more at fmopera.org
Facebook | @fmopera

Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley

The Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley is a non-profit organization based in North Dakota that works to provide essential household furniture and items, at no cost, to individuals and families facing challenging times.

Operating as a faith-based organization, the Furniture Mission, which was founded in 2020 by Evert Van Engelenhoven, specializes in facilitating access to furniture for households in crisis or undergoing significant life challenges. Their work involves collecting gently used furniture donations and then re-gifting these items to people who are in the process of rebuilding their lives. Essential items such as beds, dressers, and lamps, which are fundamental in setting up a home, form a significant part of their donations.

In order to ensure that the most in-need people are getting access to their donations, the Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley works with 40 other agencies in our community. These agencies are also walking alongside people as they navigate a lot of really challenging situations, including homelessness and domestic violence situations.

"There are a lot of different situations that these people are coming from," said Jordan McCormick, the Furniture Mission's Executive Director and only employee. "The common denominator is that these individuals and families are completely starting over. Inventory is always a challenge so we might not have something that everybody needs, but we're here to help people with the basic necessities so they can get back on their feet."

Farm in the Dell

Farm in the Dell, based out of Moorhead, is a non-profit organization with a compelling and compassionate mission. This organization is dedicated to enhancing the emotional, physical, and spiritual lives of individuals with developmental disabilities.

At the heart of Farm in the Dell’s mission is the transformative idea of turning disabilities into abilities. To do this, they provide employment to individuals with developmental disabilities in a farm setting. These employment opportunities are not just jobs; they are a means to empower, uplift, and provide a sense of purpose and belonging to those who are often marginalized in society.

"We work closely with local families and agencies to connect individuals with purposeful work that fills their spirits, sharpens their minds, and cultivates joy," said Executive Director."

Learn more at farminthedellrrv.org
Facebook | /farminthedellrrv
Instagram | @farminthedellrrv

Memory Cafe of the Red River Valley

Memory loss can be devastating for all parties involved. For the affected, life can become confusing and isolating. For their loved ones it often seems hopeless, but it doesn’t have to be thanks to the Memory Cafe of the Red River Valley, the only place in the metro for members of the memory loss community to gather in a safe, welcoming environment.

"There is a lot of talk about inclusiveness these days, but up until now, those discussions haven't included people in the memory loss community. There are 1000s of people living with memory loss in Fargo-Moorhead. The fact that the Memory Cafe is here is so important for people's well-being and mental health. As a society, we often write people off who have dementia or Alzheimer's disease. But we're here to show how it is possible to fully live with this disease. We’re not sugar-coating the disease but we create many moments of joy for our participants during every gathering. We have a lot of fun together!”

The organization does this by allowing memoryimpaired individuals and their loved ones to meet new friends and learn new skills.

“It’s not just for the people experiencing impairment,” Kaul said, who co-founded the organization due to her own parents dealing with memory disease. “It’s also for their loved ones. If you come to Memory Cafe we will help equip you with the skills you need to truly be there for your loved one.”

Learn more at memorycafeofrrv.org
Facebook | /memorycafeoftherrv
Instagram | @memorycafe_rrv

4 Luv of Dog

4 Luv of Dog Rescue, based in Fargo, North Dakota, is a remarkable example of community-driven efforts in animal welfare. Established in 2005, this entirely volunteer-run-non-profit organization is dedicated to the cause of rescuing and rehoming dogs. The organization primarily serves the upper Midwest.

The Rescue receives no government funding and relies entirely on grants, fundraising, and generous donations from the community to provide care for all of the dogs in its rescue. A volunteer-run organization devoted to rescuing and rehoming dogs, 4 Luv of Dog Rescue does not discriminate against breed, age, or disability.

"We are nothing without our community,"

A unique aspect of 4 Luv of Dog Rescue is its operational model. Unlike many animal shelters, it does not maintain a traditional shelter facility. Instead, it operates on a foster-based system, with dogs being cared for in foster homes or at local boarding facilities. This approach not only provides a more home-like environment for the dogs but also helps in better assessing their behavior and needs in a family setting. This system is complemented by a facility in Moorhead, Minnesota, which is used for emergency-only housing for dogs until a foster home becomes available.

Potential adopters can meet dogs either by becoming approved to adopt or by attending an organization-hosted event. This process ensures that the dogs are placed in homes that are best suited for their individual needs. Most of the dogs are in foster homes, and the organization respects the time and commitment of its foster volunteers by arranging meetings with approved adopters only.

Learn more at 4luvofdog.org
Facebook | /4LuvOfDogRescue
Instagram | @4luvofdogrescue

The Great North Pole

The Great North Pole’s main focus is providing warm winter gear needed by students in the area so that they can better engage in their school programs. Many students in the area live within a 2-mile radius of the school they go to, which makes many of them ineligible for bus transportation to and from school—this requires them to walk.

“Considering the average morning temperatures from November 2022 to March 2023 fell in the teens to below zero and that the local area averages four to twelve blizzards per year, having high-quality winter wear is a necessity to get to and from school and to be able to participate in activities like recess,” said Great North Pole Executive Director Shannon Thornton. As temperatures decline, so does attendance. Often, this is due to families who are at or below the poverty level not having the financial resources to outfit their children or themselves properly to make the daily walk to and from school.”

"The Great North Pole's Mission is to help children and families in need in Cass and Clay County. Our goal is to bring joy and the spirit of Christmas to every household we touch. We are able to do this through our generous donors, national and local corporate sponsorships, other local nonprofits, and hundreds of volunteers from our community."

One of the Great North Poles’ key initiatives is their Helpful Holiday Boxes. These boxes help to subsidize families’ monthly expenses for basic needs items in the month of December to help bring joy and the spirit of Christmas to every household they touch. These boxes often include warm winter gear, pantry items, personal and household basic needs products, and supplies.

Learn more at thegreatnorthpole.org
Facebook | /theGreatNorthPole
Instagram | @thegreatnorthpole

Fix it Forward Ministry

Fix It Forward Ministry, originally founded under the name Higher Power Automotive Ministries by high school friends and car enthusiasts Matthew Carlson and Jeremy Jensen in 2015, is a charitable organization dedicated to providing free auto repairs and car donations to members of the Fargo-Moorhead community in need. Many residents, particularly single parents, face challenges in getting to work, school, or appointments without a personal vehicle. By repairing vehicles for free and donating cars to those without one, Fix It Forward Ministry aims to remove transportation barriers and foster independence and self-sufficiency in the community.

"We were both working at Microsoft when Matthew came up to me while we were getting something to drink with the idea to fix cars for people in need—that's kind of how it all started. We're all created in God's image and I think part of that image is helping others. Everyone is called to do something meaningful and we each have different and unique skill sets. This is how we can help."

From there, Carlson and Jensen reached out to the YWCA and asked if any of their clients could use help with car repairs. They responded with “absolutely,” and let Jensen and Carlson know that the number one problem they were unable to solve for people was transportation. So that’s where they started. From there, it only took a year and a half before people were donating cars to them.

Fix it Foward Ministry is largely supported by Fix it Forward Auto Care a for-profit repair shop founded by Matthew Carlson in 2018.

Written by Geneva Nodland

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