The tradition of ‘March is Red Cross Month’ started in 1943, during World War II.
Prior to designating March as its official fundraising month, the American Red Cross conducted campaigns known as roll calls. That tradition began during World War I.
When the United States entered World War II in 1941, the war effort placed additional financial demands on the Red Cross. The resulting fundraising was successful, but, after discussions with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the honorary chairman of the Red Cross, a decision was made to consolidate fundraising and have a special month dedicated to the Red Cross. With an initial goal of $125 million, March was named as Red Cross Month.
In less than six weeks, the Red Cross reached its goal, and by June 1943, donations totaled nearly $146 million. Roosevelt called it the “…greatest single crusade of mercy in all of history.”
Washington, D.C., 1943 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the proclamation naming March as the official Red Cross month.
Washington, D.C., February 28, 1961 – President John F. Kennedy, as honorary chairman of the American Red Cross, launches the annual Red Cross fundraising campaign.
Throughout the war years and after, the Red Cross continued the tradition of using March as Red Cross Month for its annual fundraising effort.
2009 presidential proclamation signed by President Barack Obama declaring March as Red Cross Month.
As part of the tradition, the president customarily issues a proclamation each year declaring March as Red Cross Month.