Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer made a proclamation at the Fergus Falls City Council meeting on Monday, Feb. 3 to declare Thursday, Feb. 13 as Giving Hearts Day in the city. Giving Hearts Day, a 24-hour fundraising event for charities in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, was started in 2008 by Fargo-based Dakota Medical Foundation. The group calls Giving Hearts Day the “Super Bowl” of giving in the Upper Midwest and last year they helped almost 500 charities raise $16.3 million from 30,000 donors. This year, their goal is to see 50,000 donors.
Several representatives from charities in Fergus Falls showed up to the City Council meeting that day to promote the event, including Productive Alternatives development director Tammy Anderson. “A few years ago we created a collaborative with many of the nonprofits in Fergus Falls so we could spread the message of Giving Hearts Day, to help support the mission and support sustainability, so nonprofits can stay strong in the community,” she says.
In order to participate in Giving Hearts Day, a nonprofit needs to participate in training through Impact Institute which teaches organizations how to more effectively tell their stories and fundraise. “You have to go through their academy in order to be a part of Giving Hearts Day, so that’s why there are seven organizations in Fergus Falls that are a part of the Fergus Falls collaborative,” says Anderson. So while there are, of course, more than seven nonprofits in the city, only those seven are participating in Giving Hearts Day, along with several others throughout the county. That includes the YMCA, LB Seminary, A Wife Like Me, Productive Alternatives, Health Resources Center, A Place to Belong, Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes & Perham, Essentia Health St. Mary’s Foundation, Freedom Resource Center and more. You can find a complete list on the Giving Hearts Day website (givingheartsday.org), as well as make your donations there.
“Freedom Resource Center has been a part of Giving Hearts Day for quite a while but the great thing about this, also, is that all the donations that we collect here will stay and be used here. All the local donations will be used to serve the individuals here within our area,” Leigh Lake, an independent living advocate at Freedom Resource Center, says. They’re hoping to raise at least $7,000 this year since any donations up to $7,000 will be matched. Last year they raised $20,000.
As part of Giving Hearts Day, Freedom Resource Center’s downtown Fergus Falls office will be holding an open house from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. with doughnuts, coffee and a drawing. Donations can be made online or at their office and they’re hoping to spread awareness of their peer mentor program. “Just in Otter Tail County alone, there’s 820 hours that were volunteered with mentors. It’s big and we want to see more people out there being a part of this program, because it’s pretty neat,” she says.
Productive Alternatives has an anonymous donation that will match funds up to $20,000 so Anderson says that’s their goal this year. Tuesday night they held a Giving Hearts Day fundraising event at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Elizabeth and on Thursday everyone will be wearing red shirts to work at all the Productive Alternatives offices throughout Minnesota. “You want to have strong nonprofits to help support things that are in your community,” she says.