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September 02, 2016

Muscular Dystrophy Charity Adjusts to Life After Telethon

A year after scrapping its signature Labor Day telethon, the Muscular Dystrophy Association is facing financial challenges but also ramping up digital fundraising and pledging double spending on researching and testing treatments for diseases that debilitate muscles, reports the Associated Press.

For more than 40 years, the charity was nearly synonymous with the annual holiday-weekend fundraiser and its host, comedian Jerry Lewis. The association dropped Mr. Lewis as its national chairman in 2011 and downsized the televised event from more than 21 hours to six and then two before ending it entirely.

Citing tax filings and Chronicle of Philanthropy fundraising data, the AP notes that donations to the muscular-dystrophy group declined from $183.5 million in 2007 to about $135 million in 2014. The association has cut research funding in half, to $18.5 million, in roughly the same period and reduced its staff from 1,200 to 800 over the past decade. The charity’s leaders are touting expanded online outreach and fundraising efforts as its moves into the post-telethon era.