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The Polio Crusade | Image Gallery

The Polio Crusade

In the mid-twentieth century, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (the predecessor to today’s March of Dimes) pioneered a new approach to philanthropy, raising money a dime at a time from millions of small donors. The nonprofit enlisted poster children, celebrities, presidents, and other partners in their high-profile campaigns.

By 1954, the National Foundation was the nation’s leading health charity, capturing nearly half of all charitable donations to those causes. However, with 100,000 cases per year, polio was a smaller public health threat than tuberculosis, heart disease, cancer, cerebal palsy, or muscular dystrophy.

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