Let me tell you in what I believe is one of the most successful charities of time. It is an organization that’s a household name, a trademark event and has over time re-invented itself many times…helping millions of children, including my youngest daughter. It’s the March of Dimes.
Polio was one of the most dreaded illnesses of the 20th century, and killed or paralyzed tens and thousands of Americans during the initial half the 20th century. President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes since the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis on January 3, 1938. Roosevelt himself was paralyzed with that which was believed to be polio. The first purpose of the Foundation was to raise money for polio research and to care for 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 day, The March of Time. Over time, the name “March of Dimes” became synonymous with this of the charity and was officially adopted in 1979.
For pretty much two decades, the March of Dimes provided support for the task of many 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 organization, as opposed to losing sight of business, decided in 1958 to utilize its charitable infrastructure to serve mothers and babies with a brand new mission: to avoid 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; that my own youngest child suffered. I am sure they will be just as successful as they’ve been with polio and birth defects.
Their success has a whole lot to show small charities about the significance of brand/reputation and mission. They have re-invented themselves; just as small charities must often do. A broader mission lets you 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 discover more concerning this e-course or for monthly newsletters, visit her blog BLISS-Charities.