SHAFAQNA- The real challenge with the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge”? Trying to escape it this summer.
The philanthropic blockbuster, which has been ubiquitous on Facebook and lured in hundreds of celebrities, has sparked millions of donations to ALS research and raised awareness of the disease. But after a month in the spotlight, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is — finally — starting to show signs of cooling down.
On Friday morning, the ALS Association announced that donations related to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — the social media-powered video challenge, where participants pour a bucket of ice water on their heads and dare others to donate — have topped $100 million in the past month.
That’s a 3,500% increase from the $2.8 million that the ALS Association raised during the same time period last year. More than three million people have donated, the association says.
According to Plenty Consulting, a firm that specializes in peer-to-peer fundraising, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge worked because it hit a sweet spot: Accessible and fun; an understandable, compelling cause; and “networked social proof.” (Note: While Plenty’s worked with the ALS Association in the past, they didn’t collaborate on the Ice Bucket Challenge.)
“These past few weeks, the Ice Bucket Challenge has eclipsed everything in our industry,” says Jeff Shuck, Plenty’s CEO.
“Everyone we’re not working with is calling us and wanting [their own] Ice Bucket Challenge.”
Using ALS Association data, Plenty graphed out how donations have steadily climbed, but also how the campaign is finally starting to ebb. While average donations peaked at over $100 on August 21, they were down to less than $30 this week.
“Momentum is slowling as the networks get saturated,” Shuck observes, “and most of the low-hanging fruit has done the event.” He thinks the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge could have “quite a long tail,” though, as it makes its way into new locations. For example, the Ice Bucket Challenge is now spreading across the United Kingdom.
Given the campaign’s unbelievable success — but the understandable fatigue with the idea of pouring ice water over one’s head — what does Shuck tell the charities that now want an Ice Bucket Challenge of their own?
“That it’s not about the ice bucket,” he says. “You could sit in a room for a year and come up with a thousand ideas that seem like a breakthrough success, and then most of them wouldn’t work.” Instead, a charity needs to start by examining its core values and mission, he says, and then figure out “if there’s an interesting, catchy campaign around it.”
Some have complained that the Ice Bucket Challenge has been grating — that participants are driven by narcissism, or that the videos don’t actually accomplish much. Writing for Forbes, Matthew Herper offers a strong rebuttal.
Shuck acknowledges that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has rubbed some people the wrong way, especially as participants get caught up in the act of making videos rather than focusing on the substance of the charity itself.
But he thinks one number can shut down the doubters.
“Look at the scoreboard,” Shuck says. “How can you argue about $100 million?”