Hinks Family Named Philanthropic Family of the Year

With impactful gifts to both music and athletics, the Hinks are the SDSU Foundation's twelfth Philanthropic Family of the Year.

Bill and Carolyn Hinks of Sioux Falls were named the South Dakota State University Foundation’s 2023 Philanthropic Family of the Year.

The couple and their business, Furniture Mart USA, have contributed nearly $2.5 million to SDSU.

Created in 2012, the award acknowledges exceptional generosity to diverse causes by a family that serves as an inspiration to others to support SDSU.

The award was announced April 27 before a crowd of over 600 during the Celebration of Philanthropy at the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center, with hundreds more streaming the event online.

As a student at State in the 1960s, Bill juggled work, classes, extracurriculars, and family life. He fell four credits short of graduating, but embarked on a successful career by founding Unclaimed Freight. Today, he is the owner of 56 Furniture Mart USA stores.

In 2010, SDSU leadership surprised Hinks with an honorary baccalaureate degree, marking only the second time in history the university had bestowed the recognition. The first was renowned South Dakota artist, Harvey Dunn.

Bill and Carolyn Hinks’ giving is focused around what Carolyn describes as Bill’s two early passions: music and athletics.

The couple’s support for the Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band includes scholarships dedicated to upperclassmen. They were also a lead donor to send the band to the 2022 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, ensuring that no student would miss out on the chance due to financial constraints. The band honored the couple as the 2022 Friends of the Pride on Hobo Day. Bill and Carolyn were the fifth recipients ever honored with the title.

Summing up the Hinks’ influence on the Pride, Director of the School of Performing Arts David Reynolds said, “I cannot think of one thing in the past ten years that we’ve been able to do with the Pride of the Dakotas – that has been outstanding for the university and for the students – that hasn’t had Bill and Carolyn’s fingerprints all over it.”

Their business, Furniture Mart USA, has also made a $1 million gift for the renovation of Frost Arena to First Bank & Trust Arena.

The Hinks are the twelfth family to receive the Philanthropic Family of the Year award. The first recipient was the Dale and Pat Larson family of Brookings in 2012.

Since that time, past honorees include:

  • the Les and Wanda Roberts family of Ashton, SD;
  • the Bob and Pat Fishback and Van and Barb Fishback families of Brookings;
  • the Larry and Diane Ness family of Yankton, SD;
  • the Gene and JoAnn Goodale family of Brookings;
  • the Duane Harms and Barbara Reed Harms family of Brookings;
  • the Keith Rounds and Cathy Vander Wal-Rounds family of Brookings;
  • the Al and Irene Kurtenbach family of Brookings;
  • the Nef and Gonzenbach families along with Valley Queen Cheese;
  • and the Orv and Trudy Schmieding family.