If you hate the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge because you’re a cynical bastard who thinks dumping water over your head is a completely asinine way to raise money, and that people aren’t truly “educated” about ALS: please click into this Time article and enjoy – my post is not for you.
If you hate the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge because you tire quickly of all viral Internet shenanigans – from planking to selfies, and everything in between – then stick around, compadre, because we’re in the same boat.
Is the Ice Bucket Challenge contrived? Yes. Is it silly? Yes. Does it work. Oh yes.
According to NBC, the challenge has raised nearly $16 million in less than one month.
The “Ice Bucket Challenge,” designed to raise awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, has now raised over $15.6 million from July 29 through August 18, the ALS Association tells NBC News in a written statement. That’s compared to just $1.8 million in that same period in 2013. The ALS Association also says that the donations have come from existing donors and from 307,598 new donors.
Could it be more? Sure. It can always be more.
Do some people know why they’re taking ice water to the face, or even think to donate? No, surely not. But you’ll never have 100% success rates in these type of things.
The point is to stimulate discussion, which this cultural meme surely has.
When was the last time, before witnessing the billionth celebrity/friend/athlete/whomever get doused with water, that you even thought about ALS?
I can tell you when it was for me. It’s whenever I read a Peter King feature on Steve Gleason or watch the following video – which is to say maybe 2-3 times per year.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is the 2014 equivalent to the LiveStrong bracelet craze of 2004. At that time Nike sold bracelets for $1 a pop, pledging the money towards cancer research. When demand for the instantly fashionable bracelets grew, and manufacturers scrambled to keep up, bands sold on the eBay secondary market for 10x their initial cost. At that point, the money went directly into entrepreneurial sellers’ hands, not into charity. Owning a LiveStrong band was a fashion statement, not a charitable endeavor.
However, much like today’s challenge, the bands ignited discussion.
You can’t start a fire without a spark. You can’t ignite a movement without national discourse. These things aren’t perfect, but they’re a start in the right direction.
So yeah, while it is played out, the challenge is working. If nothing else, a few more people are aware of ALS, and there’s $15 million more in the coffer than there was a year ago. Save the snark and indignation for when you’re researching how the donations are appropriated, not for the fundraising effort.
*UPDATE* Darren Rovell reports that the money raised is $22.9 million in the past 22 days, which is nearing last year’s total fundraising of $23.5 million.
The national chapter of the ALS Association raised $23.5M in 2013. The Bucket Challenge in 22 DAYS has raised $22.9 million.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) August 19, 2014