The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is Fun(d)raising at its Finest

Forgive me, but you’ll find at the bottom of this post yet another Ice Bucket Challenge video. I was on vacation and somewhat off the grid a couple of weeks ago when the ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) Ice Bucket Challenge meme hit, so I wasn’t quite sure what the shout-out from Hammock president John Lavey was all about when it hit my in-box.

By the time I could get around to responding to his challenge, the meme had grown to epic status. How epic? Today (August 24, 2014), the ice bucket full of contributions being poured onto the ALS Association has crossed the $70 million mark–compared to the $2.5 million the organization raised during the same period last year. Perhaps of even greater significance to the assocciation  longterm is that those donations came from 1.8 million new donors. Such an addition to an organization’s database of donors is rare and typically comes at great financial investment or is associated with a tragedy (like a tsunami or the recent suicide of Robin Williams).

The donations to the ALS Association could also be the  highest margin contributions ever seen by a non-profit: no direct mail, no posters or tee-shirts, no event planner fees, no bell ringing. Just money coming in via the Internet. (For the record, ALSA has a good rating for keeping its fundraising costs low (about 21% of the funds raised). The BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s review of ALSA concludes it meets their 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.)

Unfortunately, even good Internet memes have short half-lives. The fun watching them lasts a few days and then they become unbearable. This one has lasted because the vast majority of them are fun for just few people: It’s especially fun for children to pour ice water on their parents, teachers, coaches, etc.

It may get boring to watch such videos, but I discovered something the other day. It’s fun making one. And it’s fun watching all those funds pour into the ALS Association.

Did I mention you can make a contribution at this link?


  • dougpetch

    I’m not a fan of this particular meme. It strikes me as little more than the Selfy-generation saying “Hey – look at me giving money to a good cause and shaming you into doing the same”. To each his own, and I’m happy that a deserving charity is experiencing an uptick in donations, but I believe I’ll stick to giving of my time, talents and tithes in a more discreet manner.

  • Rex Hammock

    Doug, I think you and I have been watching these things a long time and may bring a little bit of a jaded point of view. I thought about it before doing one and found the ones that made me smile the most were not the famous ones, but the ones with pre-teens dumping water on their parents. I think if a meme can get pre-teens and parents doing something together for any cause or charity is a good thing. That said, your comment “shaming you into doing the same” is precisely why I didn’t challenge anyone. (P.S. Ever get to Nashville?)

  • dougpetch

    Me? Jaded? ;-)

    Point taken, though. And no, I haven’t been to Nashville in a few years. I keep threatening to head down to Ft. Campbell, though; if I ever do I’ll let you know.