#IceBucketChallenge goes viral, raises millions

The #IceBucketChallenge videos which have been filling up our social media feeds in August have raised millions for The ALS Association, the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Macmillan, illustrating the power of the internet in raising funds and awareness.

| 19th Aug 14

Unless you’ve been living in a hole for the past few weeks, you’ll have noticed your social media feeds filling up with videos of people tipping buckets of ice cold water over their heads for charity.

This is the latest social media craze launched by the ALS Association, #IceBucketChallenge. What happens? A person gets a bucket of ice water tipped over their head. Then they nominate two of their friends, who have 24 hours to tip a bucket of ice water over their own heads. They’re raising money for the ALS Association, to research the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In Britain, the money goes to Macmillan Cancer Support and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Hoards of celebrities are getting involved and posting their own videos online, which is giving the craze even more traction. Lady Gaga, Cara Delevingne, James Franco and Mark Zuckerberg are just a few of the famous faces supporting the cause.

Between July 29th and August 12th, the ALS Association and its 38 chapters received $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 million during the same time period last year. Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association said: “We have never seen anything like this in the history of the disease. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the level of compassion, generosity and sense of humor that people are exhibiting as they take part in this impactful viral initiative.”

The viral trend is reminiscent of the #nomakeupselfie, which raised £8m for Cancer Research UK in six days, despite the charity not initially having any formal involvement.

So why does the #IceBucketChallenge work and what can charities learn from it?

1. It’s funny and easy to do. Everyone likes watching people get wet and shriek a bit.

2. It doesn’t require commitment. For those taking part there’s no intense training, no need to ask for sponsors, or use up much time.

3. It’s about millenials and celebrities. Celeb involvement can only be spurring everyone on to complete the challenge, which then gets shared on numerous social media sites.

4. People like showing off. Isn’t that what social media is about anyway? It might as well be for a good cause.

5. It unites people. People want to share their videos and involve others, raising awareness and hopefully funds for the cause.

Examples like this illustrate the power that the internet and social media can have on fundraising. Charities – take note! What will the next viral charity fundraising craze be?


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