Fundraising History

The expression "fundraising" started in the US in the late nineteenth century, during a time when there was a developing interest in generosity and worthy causes.

Fundraising History


The expression “fundraising” started in the USA in the late part of the nineteenth century during a time when there was a developing interest in generosity and worthy causes. The concept of fundraising for certain causes has been around for a very long time. The phrase “collecting pledges” specifically refers to the act of asking for contributions from individuals, groups or businesses to support a particular activity or objective.

To trace the first act of fundraising in the world depends on which word you choose to use for the practice of raising money for those in need.

Fundraising, Philanthrophy and Charity have been used as the umbrella terms so let’s deal with each and let you make up your own mind.

In Boston in 1887, one of the earliest recorded instances of fundraising in the US occurred when money was obtained for a brand-new Massachusetts General Hospital building.
Well-known Boston women of the era, including Julia Ward Howe, widely remembered for penning the lyrics to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and Isabella Stewart Gardner, who would later build the Gardner Museum, organized the Charity Bazaar.
This was a great success.

Charities across the nation then held their own events as a result of this, raising more than $30,000.

Since then, non-profit groups have primarily relied on fundraising to support their diverse missions.

Early forms in religious institutions

Fundraising – noun: the seeking of financial support for a charity, cause, or other enterprise.

According to Fundraising – Management and Analysis, the earliest reference of the term was closely associated with religious Jewish and Christian faiths.
The Jewish faith had specific volunteers assigned to raise money for specific fundraising tasks within their community.

The Christian faith with their now traditional church gate collections can trace the practice back to the middle ages.

There is a well documented record of how Troyes Cathedral in New York was funded with a various methods from 1389 to 1423 with a total of $4,074 raised.

#RaiseMoney AndrewCarnegie

Andrew Carnagie

Philanthropy – noun: the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.

The term usually conjures up an image of a wealthy individual with an altruistic desire to affect situations or projects close to their sense of values.
Andrew Carnagie was probably one of the most famous who contributed to many noble causes on a very large scale and whose many contributions are still affecting the lives of many people to this day.

The word itself comes from a Latin word philanthropia and also the Greek word philanthrōpia, which mean love or kindness to mankind.

Tax Breaks

Charity – noun: an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need.

In the US it simply means serving the poor and the needy.

Whereas in the UK it is a distinct legally registered organisation that carries tax breaks for fundraising.

Ireland also follows the UK model for Charities and this is how many of the charities exist here.

Institutionalized fundraising in Europe

This is seen as a good way to ease the pressure of having to rely on Government funding. Big Business align themselves to a charity that they feel can be of mutual benefit going forward in regards to exposure to the general public. For instance, a lot of communication companies sponsor charities as they can advertise their brand and gather data with each communication made on behalf of the charity to the general public. The charity benefits by predictable sums of funding each year of the deal.

Fundraising through the decades

Whatever it was that coined the phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention”….fundraising must have been a contender. A quick look back through the decades shows how creative organisations were to raising money.

In the 1860s charity balls and galas were popular.

Then moving on ten years direct mail campaigns began to gain traction in the 1870s while the sale of sweets and calendars became a method in the 1880s.

By the time the 1890s came, charitable trusts were established.

#RaiseMoney Walk - Run

The Early 1900s

When the 1900s arrived, the direct mail campaigns began to get more sophisticated with data and analytics to send targeted appeals to target donors.

1910s was when walks and runs became a thing to do to raise funds..

In the 1920s brought the use of thermometers to update the public on donation totals and encourage to donate more.

During the Great Depression during the 1930s community funding drives were introduced as a way to bring people together and support the needy. The strategy was to go door to door for donations and hold other events such as bake sales and auctions.

With the advent of World War II in the 1940s, Government bonds became popular as it was deemer patriotic to buy bonds and help fund “the boys” overseas in the war effort.

The 1900s Part II

Although the first ever telethon took place in 1949, it was in the 1950s that this huge phenonomon started to become a great way to fundraise.

Celebrity Endorsements became popular during the 1960s.

Anyone who witnessed the spectacle that was Live Aid in 1985 must have wondered when the first ever benefit concert took place.

While Woodstock in the 60s did raise money for causes, the first bonifided Benefit concert is widely believed to have taken place in 1971 when George Harrison & Friends had the bright idea to get muscians to donate their time to raise money in The Concert For Bangladesh along with a Triple Album of the same name.

The IT Age

With the 80s came two men who would change the way the world communicated and nothing would ever be the same again.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (who has gone on to be the most famous philantropist today) set in motion the steps to make communication what it is today covering PCs, Tablets and of course Mobile Phones.

As technology got more sophisticated, as in made life quicker and easier for people, so too did it make it easier to donate online when the internet was added to the mix when the 1990s rolled in.




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