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5 Donation Breakthroughs that Made History

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a donation is “something that is given to a charity, especially a sum of money.” Well, no offense to the Oxford English Dictionary, but we think it’s time for them to update this definition. Since the turn of the century, donations have moved beyond charity to become a valuable player in getting all sorts of things done, from artistic ventures to major surgeries.

But even before crowdfunding websites and online donations became a force in the world of fundraising, donations helped make a lot of great things possible. Take a look at our brief history of donations and how they made a difference.

1. Arts Patronage

Masterpieces like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Michelangelo’s David wouldn’t exist in a world without donations. Prior to the 19th century, the only way to be an artist was to have a wealthy benefactor backing you financially. Generous donors made many discoveries possible by supporting artistic and scholarly ventures—everything from music and sculpture to philosophy and astronomy.

2. Blood Donations

In 1818, the first human blood transfusion was performed and it became possible for humans to donate their own blood to other humans in need. This changed the medical field drastically, making it possible for more elaborate surgeries to be performed and saving a lot of lives. It also speaks volumes to the lengths people will go to help each other out. At the Boston Marathon in 2013, for example, many marathoners kept running straight to the hospital to donate blood to help those injured by the bombings.

3. The Copper Lady

One of the first instances of crowdfunding actually brought Lady Liberty to U.S. shores, where she became a symbol for freedom and opportunity, but also for the power of donations. A gift from France, the Statue of Liberty was paid for with donations from French city governments, French veterans of the American revolution, and even schoolchildren (Don’t worry they only gave small donations). On the other side of the pond, American donations helped pay for the statue’s pedestal.

4. Birth of Online Crowdfunding

In the early 2000s, crowdfunding hit the web and individual fundraising became a whole lot easier. Today there are hundreds of online donation websites that have raised billions of dollars to help people achieve their goals. But in the grand scheme of things, crowdfunding websites have proven how much can be achieved when people come together to help each other out. Now with a few clicks, it’s easy to show people you care and help them reach their goals, whether those goals are making a great movie, finding the next big thing in tech or paying for a kidney transplant.

5. Medical Crowdfunding

After crowdfunding took off and the world realized the power that lies in online donations, some people started using online platforms to raise money for medical expenses. Shortly after, sites started popping up specifically for medical crowdfunding, and have since provided a platform for people to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to help their friends and loved ones overcome the burden of high medical bills.

Much like the first blood transfusion changed medicine back in the 19th century, medical crowdfunding has changed the way people look at major illnesses and surgeries. Before, those suffering from major illnesses had much less access to financial and emotional support. Today, sites like GiveForward provide a platform for friends and family to show support of their loves ones while allowing them to ease the financial burden that often accompanies major illness.

Now let’s circle back to our good friends at the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s clear to us that the definition of donations has changed over the years to mean so much more than just something given to a charity. Online donations have made so many great things possible and virtually revolutionized the way people view illness and medical bills. And that’s something to celebrate.

Whose world will you change?