Dakota Medical Foundation Staff on Giving Hearts Day

A Driving Force

Dakota Medical Foundation fulfills its mission of connecting people to opportunities to improve health by creating the area’s largest giving day and supporting UND students.

Every February, people in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota receive several messages from local charities in their inbox, mailbox and social media platforms, all asking a simple question: Will you be a Giving Heart?

Those who answer the call participate in Giving Hearts Day, a 24-hour giving event that is now the longest-running giving day in the country.

15 years ago, Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF) spearheaded the event in collaboration with the Alex Stern Family Foundation and the Impact Foundation, which DMF created to help area nonprofits. Just 40 charities participated in that first Giving Hearts Day. Today, that number has exploded to 570 charities, who together have raised more than $164 million on Giving Hearts Day since 2008. It is the longest-running giving day in the country.

“It’s grown beyond our wildest dreams,” Executive Director Pat Traynor, ’88, ’91, said. “But it’s because we live in a generous place where thousands more people help every year.”

Pat Traynor and DMF staff presenting check to Furniture Mission of the Red River Valley
Pat Traynor interviewing Scott Holdman

For years, the UND Alumni Association & Foundation has partnered with DMF on Giving Hearts Day, together asking donors to provide life-changing support to students at the University of North Dakota.

While Giving Hearts Day is its most public initiative, DMF supports UND in other ways: It has generously given to scholarships and priority needs across campus, with a special focus on the School of Medicine & Health Sciences and the College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines. Additionally, it has supported Women for Philanthropy, which brings women together to embrace philanthropy while strengthening their connection to each other and UND.

DMF is well on its way of carrying out its vision to create the “healthiest, most generous region on the planet,” and Traynor credits the organization’s “dynamite” board of directors.

“I like to call them multipliers who have great ideas for us to always aim much, much higher than we ever thought possible,” he said. “And that’s been a key to our success.”

We live in a generous place where thousands more people help every year.