Non-secular, charitable fund-raising in the U.S. prior to World War One consisted largely of pennies put in cups or cans. Beginning with the massive effort led by Herbert Hoover’s Commission for Relief in Belgium the nation was introduced to large-scale secular charity.

Closely following Hoover was the founding of the American Field Service (AFS), which was created in 1915 to staff and provide ambulances to the French army. It was funded by generous public and business donations and grew to be quite a large operation. After the war, rather than disband, the leadership decided to repurpose the AFS and today it describes itself as ‘a global exchange, volunteer and intercultural learning organization’.

But there were others. A recent magazine article (see below) states the following:

‘Whether ineffectual charities were nefarious scams or just mismanaged, they were making a whole lot more money after the armistice. The drives that raised funds for the war effort and foreign relief during the war had inadvertently created an army of consultants ready to offer their services to every church, league, and club in the country. Raising money for a cause — or, pejoratively, systematic begging — was a new sector in the economy of sentiment, and it was big business.’

One of the first of these groups, The National Disabled Soldiers League (NDSL), was organized with the supposed purpose of raising funds to help disabled veterans. There was a real need for such assistance. However, the NDSL wasn’t the answer.

 You can read the entire article by clicking here.

James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official from Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including "Roads to the Great War," "St. Mihiel Tripwire," "Over the Top" and "Medicine in the First World War." He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges. An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he does work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and has memberships in the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Indian Military Historical Society and the Salonika Campaign Society.