I’d like to let you know by what I believe is one of the very most successful charities of most time. It is definitely an organization that has a household name, a trademark event and has through the years re-invented itself many times…helping countless children, including my youngest daughter. It’s the March of Dimes.
Polio was one of the very most dreaded illnesses of the 20th century, and killed or paralyzed thousands of Americans during the first half of the 20th century. President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes because the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis on January 3, 1938. Roosevelt himself was paralyzed with the thing that was believed to be polio. The original purpose of the Foundation was to raise money for polio research and to look after those experiencing the disease. It began with a radio appeal, asking everyone in the nation to contribute a penny (10 cents) to fight polio.
“March of Dimes” was originally the name of the annual fundraising event held in January by the Foundation and was coined by entertainer Eddie Cantor as a play on the most popular newsreel feature of the afternoon, The March of Time. Through the years, the name “March of Dimes” became synonymous with this of the charity and was officially adopted in 1979.
For almost 2 decades, the March of Dimes provided support for the work of numerous innovative and practical polio researchers and virologists. Then, on April 12, 1955 the Poliomyelitis Vaccine Evaluation Center at the University of Michigan announced to the entire world that the polio vaccine manufactured by Dr. Jonas Salk was safe and effective.
The business, as opposed to losing sight of business, decided in 1958 to make use of its charitable infrastructure to serve mothers and babies with a fresh mission: to stop premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. And it has served them well. Its decade long campaign to educate women of child-bearing years about folic acid has reduced spinal tube defects by seventy-five percent teach to one. Now it has turned to the problem of pre-maturity; which my own youngest child suffered. I believe they will be just like successful as they’ve been with polio and birth defects.
Their success has a good deal to show small charities in regards to the importance of brand/reputation and mission. They have re-invented themselves; just like small charities must often do. A broader mission allows you to successfully do that.
With over a quarter of a century of leadership and fundraising experience, Terri is passionate about helping small charities (those with significantly less than 250K income) achieve big results. She happens to be completing an e-course on leadership, management and fundraising for charities. By completing the course, charities will acquire all the essential tools and skills to improve their fundraising capacities, including trusts, major donors and corporate partnerships. To learn more concerning this e-course or for monthly newsletters, visit her blog BLISS-Charities.