UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

Annual Giving Hearts Day shows heart of UND community

The $1.5 million raised since 2018 is just one example of how Giving Hearts Day changes lives

For the past five years of Giving Hearts Day, the UND Alumni Association & Foundation has been able to up the ante, thanks in large part to the generosity of alumni and UND admirers near and far.

Since 2018, when UND first partnered with the Dakota Medical Foundation for the 24-hour giving event and delivered 14 total scholarships to UND students, everything about the annual February drive has grown.

In fact, just over $1.5 million has been raised for UND in that time through more than 1,600 donations, including a record 440 gifts in 2022, according to the UNDAAF.

Whether it’s the amount of money donated, the number of scholarships funded or the number of generous donors taking part, Giving Hearts Day has made tremendous impacts on the academic careers of hundreds at UND.

Given this success, how will UND try to maintain its record-breaking trajectory in 2023, with Giving Hearts Day coming up on Thursday, Feb. 9?

For starters, it helps to team up with the longest running of such events in the country, said DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UNDAAF.

Since 2008, Giving Hearts Day has raised $138 million for more than 550 charities and organizations across the region.

“The charitable spirit is so strong across North Dakota and northwest Minnesota on this day,” Carlson Zink said. “We come together to feed the hungry, nurture the elderly and educate tomorrow’s leaders.

“We are extremely proud of our alumni and friends who’ve made Giving Hearts Day so special for the campus over the past five years. We are working hard to have another successful event this year.”

How to give

If you go to UND’s Giving Hearts Day landing page on Thursday, a drop-down bar for designating donations will list each of the colleges, as well as UND Athletics’ MVP Scholarship Fund.

Scholarships have always been a major focus for the event, said Sarah Prout, vice president of marketing & communications for the UNDAAF.

By selecting one of the colleges, a donation will go toward scholarships housed specifically within that college. Alternatively, selecting “University of North Dakota” will direct donations to the Giving Hearts Day Student Scholarship Fund, the scholarships that the Student Finance division later awards.

But donors have the option to give to any area of their choice by writing out the designation in the “Special Donation Instructions” text box during checkout.

“In recent years, initiatives that focus on student wellness have also been a high priority for donors, including the Food for Thought Pantry as well as the UND Angel Fund, which provides emergency funding for students in need,” Prout said.

Life-changing moment

Faith Wahl, UND student body president, personally knows how Giving Hearts Day and its resulting funding and scholarships can be “life-changing” when it comes to success at UND and beyond. Last year, she was one of dozens of UND students selected for a one-time scholarship.

“The idea that someone believes in me and is willing to invest not only in my education, but my life, makes a huge difference,” she said.

It was an overwhelming moment when she got the good news. Not only did others’ acts of giving provide financial breathing room during what has been a difficult time for many college students, but also it gave her the confidence to think, “Where do I want to go from here?”

Now that she’s leading student government a year later, serving as a crucial voice for all students and providing testimony at the North Dakota Legislature, Wahl is a great example of what can be achieved at UND, said Carlson Zink.

“She has shown so much gratitude for receiving that scholarship and has a great appreciation for the impact UND’s alumni and friends have on students,” Carlson Zink added.

Photo courtesy of UNDAAF.

Love and support for UND

One impetus for UND’s involvement in Giving Hearts Day is that no student who dreams of a college degree should be left behind due to financial burdens, said Prout.

She shared that 83% of students who receive a merit-based scholarship during their freshman year will return for their sophomore year.

“Our message is all about students,” Prout remarked. “Donors want to help those who follow in their footsteps on UND’s campus.”

That inspiration isn’t lost on Wahl, who said scholarships and similar types of opportunities have been a “huge part” of her commitment to UND from the start. Now, she wants to make sure to pay it forward when the time comes.

“Giving Hearts Day is one of my favorite days of the year,” Wahl said. “You really see the community come together and give back to causes that they love and support. To see alumni who give back and members of the community who give as well to UND, it shows how interconnected we are.

“What a great community we have not only in Grand Forks and throughout North Dakota, but across the nation. And the same goes for the culture we have at UND, and what that means for students as they graduate and become alumni.”

Most importantly, Wahl said, the support shown from others strengthens students’ connections to UND, as well as connections to each other, staff, faculty and leadership on campus.