“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
This quote by an unknown author (often misattributed to Winston Churchill) represents the outlook of many in the Fargo Moorhead area, a community known for its giving. While many are drawn here by a job, they often choose to stay because of our charitable culture.
Non-profit organizations – and those they serve – benefit greatly from donations of our time and treasure. Each year, FM residents contribute thousands of volunteer hours and tens of millions of dollars to hundreds of charities.
United Way of Cass-Clay, The Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF), and the FM Area Foundation are among the organizations here that facilitate giving – connecting donors and volunteers to the needs of the community.
“The generous spirit of the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo community is at the heart of what makes it an extraordinary place to grow-up, do business, raise a family, build a life and even move back to,” said Kristi Huber, President of United Way of Cass-Clay. United Way makes investments in the community toward four goals: reducing hunger and homelessness, preparing children to succeed, helping people be independent, and lifting people out of poverty. It raised $5.7 million to invest in those efforts last year.
“We have great generosity here,” said Pat Traynor, Executive Director of DMF. “There are many philanthropic opportunities where people can give their money, talent and leadership. When people are involved in their community, that helps them feel welcomed and connected – so they want to stay. We are a community that helps each other.”
DMF helps non-profits and volunteers master fundraising, hosts online donations for charities, and provides the area’s largest database of volunteer opportunities. Earlier this year, DMF facilitated a record-breaking Giving Hearts Day event, which raised nearly $10.7 million for 360 charitable causes in the region through more than 50,000 donations.
“More than a third of these donations were from new donors,” Traynor said. “More and more people are engaging with charities for the first time, and that is very cool. This means the culture of giving is spreading and the growth potential is huge.”
Fargo-Moorhead’s thriving non-profit sector includes many charities that help with foundational needs like shelter, food, life skills, health care, and education. There are also organizations with specialty programs like the arts, science, math, and fitness.
The FM community cares for animals as well as people. Organizations such as Adopt-A-Pet, Homeward Animal Shelter, Minn-Kota Paaws and Cats Cradle Shelter give lost and abandoned animals a second chance for a happy home.
Both Huber and Traynor highlighted how the for-profit sector helps the non-profit sector succeed.
“You have to have a thriving business community to have a thriving safety net, and companies here are very purposeful, caring and civic minded,” Traynor said.
This generosity and kindness is reflected by the $1.8 million raised last year by Lend-A-Hand program managed by DMF, he added. Many businesses gladly donate auction items and dollars for local medical assistance fundraisers.
“When people hear that someone needs help, they pitch in,” Traynor said. “They lift others up. It’s incredible to see.”
The United Way also sees local businesses model social responsibility and community involvement. Last year, 650 businesses partnered with the United Way on giving campaigns.
Many companies match employee donations of money, and some – like Microsoft – provide matches for volunteer time as well. Other companies – like Bell Bank – empower employees to give using corporate dollars.
“I have seen the power and impact of philanthropy in our community,” Huber said. “Generosity is our community’s strength because it has the greatest capacity to advance us all.”