I’d like to tell you about what I think is one of the very successful charities of time. It is definitely an organization that’s a household name, a trademark event and has over time re-invented itself many times…helping countless children, including my youngest daughter. It’s the March of Dimes.
Polio was one of the very dreaded illnesses of the 20th century, and killed or paralyzed tens of thousands of Americans during the initial 50% of the 20th century. President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes while the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis on January 3, 1938. Roosevelt himself was paralyzed with what was believed to be polio. The initial intent behind the Foundation was to improve money for polio research and to take care of those experiencing the disease. It began with a radio appeal, asking everyone in the nation to contribute a dime (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 favorite 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 two decades, the March of Dimes provided support for the job 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 planet that the polio vaccine produced by Dr. Jonas Salk was safe and effective.
The corporation, as opposed to going out 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’s 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’s considered the issue of pre-maturity; which my own youngest child suffered. I am sure they’ll be just like successful as they’ve been with polio and birth defects.
Their success has a great deal to teach small charities about the importance of brand/reputation and mission. They have re-invented themselves; just like small charities must often do. A broader mission lets you successfully do that.
With over a fraction of a century of leadership and fundraising experience, Terri is passionate about helping small charities (those with less than 250K income) achieve big results. She is currently 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 enhance their fundraising capacities, including trusts, major donors and corporate partnerships. To discover more about that e-course or to receive monthly newsletters, visit her blog BLISS-Charities.