In May 1995 San Francisco-based sex toy and education shop Good Vibrations declared May to be "Masturbation Month." Since then, it has encouraged people to get sponsors as a fundraiser for charities with a sex-positive focus in that group's city.
In 1999, the Masturbate-a-Thon was originated by the collective Open Enterprises (Good Vibrations). The slogan "Come for a Cause" came from Rachel Venning, the founder of the sex toy shop Babeland. The Masturbate-a-Thon was built up by Good Vibrations who encouraged other modern sex-toy businesses such as Babeland, Madison, Wisconsin's A Woman's Touch, Toronto's Come As You Are and Boston's Grand Opening to also hold events coinciding with "masturbation month" (May in the United States). That year, the first live event was held at San Francisco's Campus Theater by the Center for Sex and Culture (CSC)'s Carol Queen and her partner Robert Lawrence. CSC is a education-based non-profit providing professional-level sex education. The annual events are used as a public health education device to increase awareness of self-pleasure as a strategy for safer and healthier sex and to de-stigmatise self-love.
In 2006, Europe’s First Sponsored Masturbate-a-Thon Event took place in London. The Masturbate-a-thon, also known as Wank-a-Thon, was filmed by ZigZagProductions of London as part of an international documentary of the event. However, plans to broadcast this on Channel 4 as part of its Wank Week series were abandoned.
London hosted Europe's first "masturbate-a-thon" on August 5, 2006 in which hundreds of men and women were expected to pleasure themselves for charity, raising money for the Terrence Higgins Trust and sexual and reproductive health agency Marie Stopes International. The final count at the location was over one hundred and fifty people, roughly two-thirds of whom were men. Although this seems like an over-balance, many of them were gay and uninterested in the women present, so the adjusted gender interest balance was even more than appearances belied. The remaining registrants remained at private locations and mailed or sent funds by computer at later dates. The 2006 London event set a few international records.
The Official 2007 Masturbate-a-Thon was held in San Francisco, California on May 26, 2007 (Masturbate-a-Thon [Trade Mark] Open Enterprises Incorporated)