Toivo Laitinen, secretary of SKSK, and Lauri Tuomi, secretary of social matters, made a tour of Northern and Eastern Finland in the early autumn of 1949. There they saw what two successive crop failures had caused.
Children were malnourished and ill; in addition, unemployment made it difficult for families to survive. That very year, two welfare organisations established during the war had been dissolved. The country lacked a system that could organise emergency aid for the regions and people that had been tried most sorely.
After their tour, Laitinen and Tuomi proposed a major fundraising campaign to help the victims of frost and unemployment in Northern and Eastern Finland.
A bishops’ meeting made the decision to organise the collection in December 1949. The proceeds from the first Campaign were decided to be divided so that 50% of the campaign income of the local parishes would be used for their own deaconal work. Of the remaining part, half was given to deaconal institutions and half to the deaconal work of the dioceses. The vicar of Varkaus, Kustaa Sarsa, came up with the name for the Campaign.
The President of the Republic was invited to be the patron of the Campaign. From the first collection year on, it became a tradition for the President to give an opening speech for the Campaign; to start with, only on the radio, and later on television.
In the 1950s, the proceeds of the Common Responsibility Fundraising Campaign were used in Finland alone. The funds were used for repairing of derelict residential buildings, and organising recreational holidays for mothers. Poor households were provided with a cow or a horse; disabled people received wheelchairs, retired people were given proper beds. Talented children were also given the means to go to school.
Every year, a special group of beneficiaries is chosen. The Campaign has thus profiled several groups of people in difficulty, such as widows, orphans, the unemployed, the homeless, the mentally and physically disabled, and lonely elderly people.
In the 1960s it was felt that aid should be channelled to foreign targets as well. In 1963, help was sent to the church of Ambo-Kavango in Namibia, familiar to Finns from missionary work, and to victims of famine.
Ever since its launch, the Common Responsibility Fundraising Campaign has been a success. Even in 1950, the campaign was immediately carried out in every parish in the country. The goal of the first Campaign was to collect 30 million marks; but campaigners doubled that, raising around 60 million marks.
Traditionally, the most important means of raising funds for the Campaign has been the collection list, with which volunteers go canvassing from door to door. Today rouhgly half of the total proceeds of the Common Responsibility Campaign come from list collection.