This study presents a narrative history and quantitative analysis of national campaigns in the United States, and analyzes how successful campaigns provide entertainment, foster empathy, and develop a national peer group with norms and networks that encourage giving. Our historical survey found that charity telethons flourished in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but changes in tax regulations and competition from other networks and cable television led most of them to discontinue operations in the 1980’s and 1990’s. In recent years, internet and text messaging fundraising have become important, but benefit concerts continue to generate a significant percentage of total revenues. In our quantitative analyses, we found that campaigns for natural disasters raised more money than most campaigns for human-made disasters, and domestic campaigns brought more donations than international ones. Media attention, fundraising expenditures, and economic growth all correlated positively with donations, as expected, but fundraising events did not increase media coverage of disasters.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christopher_einolf/16/