Let me tell you about what I believe is one of the very successful charities of all time. It is an organization that has 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 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 what was thought to be polio. The original purpose of the Foundation was to boost money for polio research and to care for those suffering from the disease. It began with a radio appeal, asking everyone in the nation to contribute a dollar (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 that of the charity and was officially adopted in 1979.
For pretty much two decades, the March of Dimes provided support for the work 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 planet that the polio vaccine produced by Dr. Jonas Salk was safe and effective.
The business, as opposed to moving away from 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’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 looked to the problem of pre-maturity; that my own, personal youngest child suffered. I am sure they will be in the same way successful as they’ve been with polio and birth defects.
Their success has a great deal to show small charities in regards to the significance of brand/reputation and mission. They have 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 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 basic tools and skills to boost their fundraising capacities, including trusts, major donors and corporate partnerships. To discover more relating to this e-course or to get monthly newsletters, visit her blog BLISS-Charities.