Mid-20th century Americans feared polio almost as much as they feared the atomic bomb. “It’s hard to imagine today how pervasive the fear was, and how embedded in the American psyche,” says author Kathryn Black, whose mother was stricken by the disease. That fear motivated Americans to support the cause.
One non-medical legacy of the crusade against polio is in the area of grassroots fundraising. Traditionally, charitable causes relied on large sums of money from wealthy benefactors. But the March of Dimes’ approach proved that seeking small contributions from the millions was an effective strategy.
Times have changed, and now many Americans donate money with the click of a mouse instead of an envelope and a stamp. It’s becoming hard to find a charity or cause that doesn’t accept online donations, no matter how small. According to Federal Election Commission filings, in his 2008 presidential campaign, Democratic candidate and ultimate victor Barack Obama raised a staggering amount, more than $656 million, from individual contributions, and racked up nearly 2.4 million individual donations. More than half of those individual donations were for $200 or less.
Learn more about Presidential campaign funding today.
Federal Election Commission
John Scopes' free speech trial pitted science against religion after the teacher presented Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in a Tennessee school.
The world famous escape artist could escape from everything - except his own mortality.
The American effort to relieve starvation in Soviet Russia in 1921 during the worst natural disaster in Europe in 500 years.
The grave truth behind modern forensics was discovered in 1920s New York.
A wry philosophical essay on what makes baseball the great American pastime.
The evolution of rhythm and blues through the careers of singers Ruth Brown and Charles Brown, with contemporary performances by both.
When two passenger ships collide off Nantucket in 1909, 1,500 people rely on 26-year-old Jack Binns to operate a new technology - wireless telegraphy - to save them all.
The story of Chicago's dramatic transformation from a swampy frontier town to a massive metropolis in the nineteenth century.