The National Foundation For Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) was founded in 1937 by Pres. FDR and was dubbed the March of Dimes at the suggestion of FDR’s friend, radio performer Eddie Cantor. The strategy of collecting dimes from every vale and hamlet was a revolutionary concept in fundraising at the time. By the early 1950s, collection ‘cards’ with dime slots were a regular feature of daily life across America, hugely boosted by Hollywood support and a tradition of collecting at the movies.
Public Relations man Carl Byoir, one of the founding giants in the PR field along with Edward L. Bernays, was hired on by FDR and the early March of Dimes (Warm Springs Foundation) to launch high-profile community fundraising for polio that resulted in the 1932 “Birthday Balls” –a nationwide dance party celebrating FDR’s birthday that raised $1million and gave the participants a chance to hear FDR speak to them over a live radio broadcast.
“Byoir personally called every newspaper publisher in the U.S. and asked him to nominate a local FDR Birthday Ball chairman (a tactic United Way uses today) and in turn, this made news. Byoir mused,
“When you set out to influence and persuade people to action, when the campaign is tremendous, nation-wide [sic] in scope, don’t think that it just happens; something has to be done to get millions of people to think the thought you want them to think and then to get them to act on that thought.”
March of Dimes Historical Videos Now Online!
The March of Dimes has launched its first online collection of historical video clips, which are now posted on YouTube
and Google Video
. The historical celebrity reels included are public service ads (PSAs) made for the March of Dimes in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s by Louis Armstrong, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, as well as two polio-related spots. We hope that you’ll enjoy watching them and share them with others. If you’re a reporter and need more information, please contact Todd Dezen, associate director of media relations, at email@example.com
Sammy Davis Junior for the March of Dimes … This spot for the 1955 March of Dimes was actually filmed in early November of 1954. http://elbo.ws – Cached/video/2RQJOI-n5zY
“The March of Dimes, one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit groups, is changing the name of Walk America, its biggest fund-raising event, to March for Babies as part of an effort to increase public awareness of its mission.”…”The changes grew out of a Gallup poll in November 2006 in which 85 percent of respondents said they found the March of Dimes to be a trustworthy, credible organization, but only 45 percent had any idea what its mission was.“They had no idea that our research has helped prevent problems, that we have good resources for those who want to know how to breast-feed, that we can offer suggestions about the questions you should ask your doctor during the first prenatal visit,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, the president of the March of Dimes.”
Fundraising and Corporate Sponsors (examples)
 Cigna will add to the $19 million it already raised for the March of Dimes…
Kmart is #1 corporate sponsor, raising $63 million for the March of Dimes…
 Cigna in its 15th consecutive year as a sponsor for March of Dimes, raised..more than $22 million…
Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes
“FDR established the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis in 1937, with his former business partner, Basil O’Connor, as its president. Its first trustees were Cornelius N. Bliss [Jr.], John S. Burke, Carle C. Conway, James V. Forrestal, S. Parker Gilbert, W. Averell Harriman, Jeremiah Milbank, Keith Morgan, Thomas E. Murray Jr., Basil O’Connor, Edward Stettinius Jr., Thomas J. Watson, and Clarence Woolley, of New York; George E. Allen, Commissioner of the District of Columbia; Robert V. Fleming of Washington; James F. Bell of Minneapolis; William L. Clayton of Houston; Robert H. Colley of Philadelphia; Harvey C. Couch of Pine Bluff, Ark.; Walter J. Cummings, Marshall Field and Walter P. Murphy of Chicago; Fred J. Fisher of Detroit, Edsel B. Ford of Dearborn, Mich.; Elton Hoyt 2d of Cleveland; William F. Humphrey of San Francisco; John R. Macomber of Boston; Leighton McCarthy of Toronto; Robert E. McMath of Bethlehem, Penn.; Carroll B. Merriam of Topeka; Charles E. Perkins [Jr.] of Santa Barbara, Cal. [a classmate of FDR]; George Rand of Buffalo, Robert W. Woodruff of Atlanta, and S. Clay Williams of Winston Salem. (To Lead Paralysis Drive. New York Times, Nov. 25, 1937.) Milbank’s International Committee for the Study of Infantile Paralysis, founded in 1928, was the forerunner.
“The National Foundation provided most of the funding for Jonas Salk’s work on his polio vaccine. James S. Adams
of Lazard Freres and the American Cancer Society
was involved in fundraising for the National Foundation in 1939… Newly elected directors of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, located at the famous address of 120 Broadway in New York, included Bayard F. Pope, who later became a director of Benson & Hedges in 1953, which then merged with Philip Morris. (Aid Drive on Paralysis. New York Times, Jun. 12, 1943.)” http://www.smokershistory.com/Roosevel.htm