‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ raises millions for ALS

By on Monday, August 18, 2014

Over the last three weeks the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ has seen celebrities including Bill Gates, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Christiano Ronaldo, Chris Pratt and pretty much anyone else who’s famous in the US having a bucket of ice-cold water dumped over their heads.

Bill-GatesThe simple premise – take the challenge or donate $100 to the ALS Association – has seen donations to the charity leap from $1.7m between 29 July and 17 August last year to $13.3m over the same period this year.

Similar to the ‘No Make Up Selfie’ phenomenon which saw millions raised for Cancer Research UK earlier in the year, it combines a great visual to spread the word with a simple call to action. And, like the earlier campaign it didn’t originate from the charity which is benefitting but from an individual fundraiser.

Getting people to leverage the power of their own networks is the key to the success of campaigns like this – everyone knows someone who has a little more reach than them and that way you get from a relatively unknown sportsperson to some of the most famous people in the world. The involvement of celebrities does wonders for the campaign’s SEO (as it no doubt will for this post!) as well.
Criticism of ‘slacktivism’ abounds but the financial returns speak for themselves and evidence suggests that those who share campaign content online are more likely to volunteer and donate.

Of course, for every social campaign that succeeds tens more fail and another causes controversy, but the lessons are clear – visual social campaigns work for emotive fundraising campaigns and charities need to be ready to follow their supporters as much as they ask their supporters to follow them.

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