In 2008, the first Giving Hearts Day raised close to $480,000 for nonprofit groups in the Fargo-Moorhead area and beyond. This year, the one-day online push for donations tallied nearly $7 million.
The region’s strong economy deserves some credit for this fundraising success, but so does the Dakota Medical Foundation, which conceived of Giving Hearts Day and helps coordinate it each year. Pat Traynor, the foundation’s president, hastens to point out that Giving Hearts Day is a collaborative effort that involves hundreds of charities.
“Our role is really to be a champion for these wonderful causes,” he said. “Everything we do is by and through others and with others.”
Put another way: Dakota Medical Foundation is a facilitator, one that gives fundraising advice to nonprofit groups – groups that are working to improve the metro area’s quality of life and, in turn, attract and retain residents in a labor market facing a worker shortage.
And Dakota Medical Foundation isn’t alone in its facilitating. Other organizations fill this role, helping not just nonprofits, but also fledgling businesses.
In 2013, Emerging Prairie established itself as a group with the mission of celebrating the work of entrepreneurs and connecting them with each other. This has been done through the creation of Prairie Den, a co-working space in downtown Fargo, and through events like 1 Million Cups, a weekly gathering where small businesses exhibit their work, and TEDxFargo, “a conference focused on ideas worth sharing,” said Greg Tehven, an Emerging Prairie co-founder.
In an effort to draw talented people to Fargo and to retain the ones already here, Tehven said, the Emerging Prairie crew asks itself, “How do we become radically inclusive?”
At the group’s events, the answer to that question has taken the form of gender-neutral bathrooms, breast-feeding stations and, maybe most important, food options that are vegan and gluten-free. “Starting with basic food choices, folks feel welcomed and encouraged,” he said.
A third group facilitating the work of making the Fargo-Moorhead area a better place to live is The Arts Partnership, which advocates for artists and arts organizations. It also supports the arts through grants and puts on ChalkFest, an event billed as an “annual celebration of creativity-on-concrete.”
Dayna Del Val, executive director of The Arts Partnership, said local arts nonprofits are in need of infusions of cash so they can start planning for their long-term future rather than just their day-to-day operations. Del Val said she views donating money to the arts as more than simply charitable giving. It’s what she calls reciprocal giving.
“When the arts are stronger, everybody is stronger. Businesses come and stay,” she said. “It’s economic investment.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Archie Ingersoll at (701) 451-5734 or firstname.lastname@example.org