For many nonprofit and charitable organizations throughout the region, today is the biggest day of the year.

It’s Giving Hearts Day, during which thousands of donations are matched by dollars from Impact Institute, Dakota Medical Foundation and the Alex Stern Family Foundation. Since its inception in 2008, Giving Hearts Day has raised some $71 million.

Two years ago, a story in the Herald said the goal of Giving Hearts Day is to “raise the chorus of giving.” In that piece – and a subsequent editorial – the Herald urged readers to participate in Giving Hearts Day, which was growing then and continues that growth today.

This year, we do the same, urging readers to consider a charitable gift today, when the donation will be matched and thus provide so much more for many organizations in and around Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

Last year, 30,675 donors throughout eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota gave a total of more than $16 million, up $3 million from 2018 and up nearly $6 million from 2017. Donations are tax-deductible, and credit card transactions are guaranteed secure. All of the money – literally 100% – goes directly to the participating charities.

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Again, the importance of Giving Hearts Day is that the donations generated today are matched, which gives them greater impact. It means a $25 gift from a donor will actually have the weight of $50.

But it’s only today: Thursday, Feb. 13.

The Greater Grand Forks organizations and agencies participating this year are Altru Family YMCA, Altru Health Foundation, Christus Rex Lutheran Campus Ministry, Circle of Friends Animal Shelter, CVIC, Empire Arts Center, Global Friends Coalition, Grand Forks Foundation for Education, Grand Forks Parks and Recreation Foundation, Grand Forks Senior Center, HC Community Care Center and Food Pantry, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, Make-A-Wish North Dakota, North Dakota Association for the Disabled (NDAD), North Dakota Museum of Art, Northland Christian Counseling Center, Northlands Rescue Mission, Prairie Harvest Mental Health, Red River Valley Community Action, Riverside Christian School, Sacred Heart Foundation, Special Olympics North Dakota, St. Joseph's Social Care and Thrift Store, The Arc-Upper Valley, The Salvation Army Grand Forks, Summer Performing Arts Company (SPA), United Way of Grand Forks-East Grand Forks and Area, Third Street Clinic, UND Alumni Association and Foundation, UND Catholic-St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, Valley Senior Living, Women's Pregnancy Center.

More than 30,000 people made donations last year, but the goal is to hit 50,000 or more. Many organizations will be reaching out today to encourage giving, but donors also can participate by visiting the website givingheartsday.org.

We should be cognizant of the importance of charitable giving throughout the year. But Giving Hearts Day is different because our donations are backed by those important third-party dollars that allow us to provide an even bigger boost to our favorite charities and organizations.

Can you spare $20, $50 or more for a great cause?

If so, today’s the day to do it.