Allow me to inform you about what I think is one of the most successful charities of most time. It can be an organization that has a household name, a trademark event and has over time re-invented itself many times…helping millions of children, including my youngest daughter. It is the March of Dimes.
Polio was one of the most dreaded illnesses of the 20th century, and killed or paralyzed thousands of Americans during the very first 50% 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 what was considered to be polio. The initial purpose of the Foundation was to raise money for polio research and to care for those struggling with 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 popular newsreel feature of the day, The March of Time. Through the years, the name “March of Dimes” became synonymous with that of the charity and was officially adopted in 1979.
For pretty much 2 full decades, the March of Dimes provided support for the work of several 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 world that the polio vaccine produced by Dr. Jonas Salk was safe and effective.
The corporation, as opposed to losing sight of business, decided in 1958 to use its charitable infrastructure to serve mothers and babies with a brand new mission: to prevent 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; of which my own, personal youngest child suffered. I am sure they’ll be in the same way successful as they’ve been with polio and birth defects.
Their success has a good deal to instruct small charities in regards to the importance of brand/reputation and mission. They’ve re-invented themselves; in the same way small charities must often do. A broader mission enables 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 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 basic tools and skills to enhance their fundraising capacities, including trusts, major donors and corporate partnerships. To learn more about that e-course or to receive monthly newsletters, visit her blog BLISS-Charities.