Public radio and television stations, such as those affiliated with National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service, as well as unaffiliated non-commercial radio stations such as WFMU, produce annual pledge drives which are similar in format to telethons, but instead use brief breaks between regular programs to appeal for funds.
Trinity Broadcasting Network, a religious television network, hosts non-stop, week-long, semi-annual telethons called "Praise-a-Thons". The Christian Broadcasting Network/The 700 Club stages a modified form of a telethon twice a year, which runs for approximately one week but is shown for only an hour or so each day. (In its early days, CBN's telethons were of the more traditional round-the-clock form. This format ended when the ministry sold its Family Channel, which no longer gave it access to a round-the-clock outlet for such telethons. However, on the Sunday before the Super Bowl, CBN continues to produce a 12-hour telethon which airs on ABC Family and syndicated stations; the time to air the program on the channel was a condition inserted in the deal by Pat Robertson in 1998 to sell The Family Channel to News Corporation, and remained in force after the channel's resale to the Walt Disney Company. Other religious stations and networks hold telethons as well.
For a brief time in the early-1970s, beginning in 1972, the Democratic Party even held annual telethons to help it erase a multi-million dollar debt (This may have provided the inspiration for the 1979 film comedy Americathon, where a telethon is held to prevent national bankruptcy). The telethon idea was created and promoted by John Y. Brown, Jr., the businessman who built Kentucky Fried Chicken into a worldwide chain and later became governor of Kentucky.
There are no annual national telethons in Canada, although as in the U.S., many local children's hospitals operate regional telethons in collaboration with Children's Miracle Network in early June.
Notable regional telethons (outside of CMN) include:
In Ireland the RTÉ People in Need Telethon has been held roughly every 2 years in May, since 1988, although there was no Telethon in 2003 due to Special Olympics and the sponsorship/volunteering needed, and it has been moved to October 26 in 2007. During ikthe last Telethon in 2004, over 4,000 fundraising events were organised by people nationwide, and proceeds were subsequently distributed to almost 760 projects in the 26 counties. Since its inception in 1988, over €35 million has been raised by the People in Need through the RTÉ People in Need Telethon, supporting a wide variety of charitable organisations nationwide. Eight Telethons have been held to date and over €35 million has been distributed in grants, ranging from €150 to €50,000, to thousands of organisations throughout Ireland. Grant applications are assessed by advisory committees in each region before final approval by the Board of Directors of the Trust. Money raised in each county, stays in each county.
In Austria, since 1973, the second nationwide public television channel ORF2 airs a telethon lasting 14 hours every year on Christmas Eve, called "Licht ins Dunkel" (litterally: light into the dark). The money raised is used to provide help for disabled persons. Donations can be made by phone, SMS, fax or via the internet. Actually Licht ins Dunkel is a permanent project and donations can also be made at post offices, banks and via the internet all year round and not necessarily on Christmas Eve during the telethon. The word telethon itself is not used in Austria, but similar names such as Fernsehmarathon (televison marathon) or Spendenmarathon (marathon of donations) are used. Although the sum of money raised is increasing from year to year, these telethons are facing increasing criticism from viewers complaining about the whole-day blocking of one of the country's most important nationwide public television channels which usually airs highly-rated programmes about culture, society, politics and business. Since Austria is a highly organized welfare state whith very high taxes to pay for a tight social security system, national health care which is free for everybody and government-provided help for people in need, many viewers consider additional money raising on public television as highly annoying or unnecessary. Some people even complain about Licht ins Dunkel since they do not wish to be confronted with the lives and problems of disabled persons on Christmas Eve.
In France, since 1987, an annual Téléthon, for the muscular dystrophy charity in France, Association française contre les myopathies, is held by France 2 on the first or second weekend in December, with the support of France 3 and France 5, and the public radio networks (France Inter, France Info, France Bleu). Several events are organized all around France. Donations are made by telephone, Minitel or at the Téléthon's website (http://www.telethon.fr/). The 2006 edition has earned €101,472,581 (US$136,389,286) in pledges.
In Italy, Telethon is also held in December, and in 2006 was on the 15/16/17. By the 18/12/06, donors had raised €30,740,000 for research into cures for genetic diseases.
In Israel, for many years an annual telethon is held for those serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). A telethon is called teletrom in Hebrew (Hebrew טלתרום), "trom" meaning donate. Telethons have also been held for endangered children on Israeli channel 2, the broadcast is called "Yom Tov" (Hebrew "יום טוב"), meaning "Good Day" in English. Telethons in Israel usually earn high ratings but have come under criticism for over commercialism.
In December of most years since 1978, the major Chilean television networks hold a 27-hour telethon (known locally as "Teletón") to raise funds to help children with developmental disabilities (most commonly cerebral palsy) in Instituto de Rehabilitación Infantil ("Infant Rehabilitation Institute") centers. The Chilean Telethon is transmitted by all channels of Chilean television & many radios. Since the telethon started, more than USD 286 million has been raised (including a record of more than US$26 million in the 2007 event on November 30 - December 1, 2007) and 10 rehabilitation centers have been constructed in the cities of: Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Santiago, Talca, Concepción, Temuco & Port Montt. In proyect there are 4 new centers in the cities of: Calama, Coihaique, Copiapó & Valdivia. During the annual event, local and worldwide stars participate in live events around the country. The Chilean telethon host has always been Mario Kreutzberger, also known as Don Francisco, who is the symbol of "La Teletón" in Chile. In Chile, the telethon is an event of national unity and is proportionally, the most widely watched telethon in the world.'
There is also a local telethon running, the Days for the Disabled Magellanic Children (Jornadas por el Niño Impedido Magallánico), to raise funds to help disabled children of the Magallanes and Última Esperanza provinces, in an effort led by the local Lions Club. The 2006 Days raised US$ 515.000.
In December of every year since 1987 all television networks hold a 27-hour telethon to raise funds to help children with disabilities in the called "Fundación Teleton" (Telethon Foundation) under the leadership of Mr. Rafael Ferrari (a successful businessman and sportsman). Many international artists, TV Presenters and Journalists are invited. Grupo Taca provides free transportation for these international invitees. Local banks provide free-service 24-hour open office during the Telethon. Most of the important business corporations, many government institutions and people donate money. Some institutions provide donations of their employees through payroll deductions. Thanks to these yearly telethons, many special care centers have been built in different locations of Honduras.
Like Chile and Honduras in December of every year since 1997 the Mexican Television network Televisa with all the media networks except TV Azteca hold a 24-hour telethon with the purpose to raise funds to help children with disabilities. The event is organized by the "Fundación Teletón". During the transmission of the event especially in the television broadcasting many Mexican media personalities shows testimonies of children and their families who overcame their disabilities. The final act with the Telethon closes likely in Chile is a concert in the Estadio Azteca with the performance of many national and international artists and singers.
The Good Friday Appeal telethon is run for the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne on Good Friday every year. It is the largest telethon in Australia and airs across Victoria all day on HSV-7 and Prime Television. It also has a print and radio component via Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper as well as radio station Mix 101.1 (formally 3DB and TTFM). In 2007 the radio partner was Southern Cross Broadcasting. The event has become a part of Melbourne culture every year, and continues to bring in record fund raising efforts across the entire state.
In Western Australia, an annual telethon is run by TVW, a Seven Network affiliate in Perth, Western Australia for the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and the Telethon Speech and Hearing Centre. In 2007, the event raiseded more than $6.5 million (AUD), double the previously record amount of $3 million. In 2008 the public of Western Australia added $1 million to their 2007 total, raising $7.5 million over the 24 hour event. The Perth telethon is regarded as the world's most successful telethon per capita anywhere in the world.
After 1976 each Telethon always out did the previous dollar raised total. The largest Telethon with money raised was 1985(over $6million)and mere one month later TVNZ participated in the LiveAid global telethon bringing in $1.8 million for New Zealand's contribution. The largest undertaking including smaller regional centres with host locations was 1988. However the economic climate at the time saw money raised drop in 1988($5million) and 1990($4 million)while hosting costs soared.
In 1991 an emergency fundraising 16 hour telethon was hurridly arranged after a devestating Cyclone flattened most of Western Samoa. The total raised was just over $1.5million with the NZ Government matching the amount dollar for dollar taking the total to just over $3million.
The last nationwide event was to raise funds for the Starship Childrens Hospital in 1993, TV 3 being the host. Events focussed on the main venue at TV3's Auckland studios, with roving crews reporting from around the country. Many people were put out by the fact that 'Auckland' was raiding the rest of New Zealand for money and at the time, TV3 lacked true nationwide coverage. Still just over $3.5million was raised.
Since Telethon ceased on nationwide New Zealand Television some regional stations have operated their own local Telethon to fund local facilities and the like.
A return was announced in August 2008 that TV3 will broadcast the 21.5 hour Telethon "The Big Night In" starting at 8.30pm on Saturday 20 June 2009 featuring a host of celebrities including New Zealand and international stars.
The 2004 Asian tsunami also led to telethons being held in countries such as Canada (CTV and OmniTV), United States (NBC) and Australia (a joint telecast between the Seven Network, Nine Network and Network Ten).
The oldest continuing annual telethon in the United States on the same channel is Green Bay, Wisconsin WBAY-TV's local Cerebral Palsy telethon that began broadcasting 22 hours on the first weekend of March 1954. As of 2008, they have celebrated their 54th year of presenting the telethon, which helps provide financial support for equipment for Cerebral Palsy, Inc.
Close behind the Green Bay telethon in longevity is the WHAS Crusade for Children in Louisville, Kentucky, which broadcast its first telethon in October 1954 on WHAS-TV and WHAS Radio, six months after the first WBAY telethon. While the Crusade for Children is still broadcast on those same stations, it has expanded to radio and television stations in other parts of Kentucky and Indiana, as well as streaming video on the Internet. The Crusade is famous for the legions of firefighters who collect money at road blocks at intersections throughout the area each May and June. The Crusade annually collects more than $5 million in donations for a variety of child-related charities and causes, and remains the most successful local telethon in the United States.