The March of Dimes Foundation has been lending a hand since 1938. Established by President Franklin Roosevelt to fight polio, the organization has evolved into an advocate for the prevention of birth defects and infant mortality. Its focus areas include genetic birth defects, premature birth, parent education, and expanding access to health care. The foundation provides information and support services for professionals and the public and supports research efforts. Most of the foundation's revenue comes from contributions to its signature March for Babies event and other fundraisers.
Corporate sponsors for the March for Babies included Bank of America, Kmart, Macy's, and Publix Super Markets in 2011.
In 2011 the March for Babies raised just over $105 million, roughly half of the organization's $211 milllion in total revenue that year. In addition, the Mothers March event generated some $106 million and other special events brought in $41 million. Aside from fundraisers and special events, March of Dimes also received just about $50 million in mail donations and almost around $15 million in major gifts (such as government grants and bequest).
Overall, the foundation invested more than $31 million in research to study premature birth, defects and infant mortality in 2011. The research money is also used for medical treatments and prevention.
The organization, originally called The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, owes its name to comedian Eddie Cantor. In an early fundraiser for the group, Cantor appealed to radio listeners nationwide to send dimes to the White House. He called the campaign the March of Dimes after the popular newsreel feature The March of Time. The campaign was a success, and The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis formally became the March of Dimes in 1979. – less