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
Bascom Lamar Lunsford and his campaign to preserve mountain music and dance.
In 1978 over 900 people led by Rev. Jim Jones died in the largest mass murder-suicide in history, at Jonestown, Guyana.
A marvel of engineering, architecture, and vision, the story of the Beaux Arts structure on 42nd street that forever changed midtown Manhattan.
The first man to fly across the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh was unprepared for the attention, particularly after his son was kidnapped.
America's Robin Hood who robbed not only the rich but the poor and defenseless as well, always saving the treasure for himself. Part of the Wild West collection.
Robert Moses fueled some of the most ambitious -- and controversial -- public works projects ever conceived.
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.
With data compiled from tens of thousands of sex questionnaires, Alfred Kinsey changed America's views about sex with the Kinsey Reports.