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
From Joseph Smith's discovery of gold tablets to persecution, migration, and settlement in Utah, the film explores the history of the most American of religions.
The life story of Aimee Semple McPherson, religious evangelist instrumental in bringing conservative Protestantism into mainstream culture.
Follow seven former Amish who choose their freedom over their family
The American effort to relieve starvation in Soviet Russia in 1921 during the worst natural disaster in Europe in 500 years.
A daunting story of shipwreck, starvation, mutiny and cannibalism amongst a group left abandoned in the high Arctic.
Accounting for America's most famous inventor and his role in America's future.
The impact of tuberculosis in America, once the deadliest killer in human history.
Brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright built a flying machine that made its first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.