In Defense of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

In Defense of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Who would have thought that dumping a bucket of ice water on one's head, donating a little bit of money, and challenging friends to do the same would become a viral sensation and raise millions of dollars? (Personally, our family thought it was fun! Chilly, but fun.)

According this very morning, ALS has been able to raise $15.6 million in donations. Which is almost $14 million more than last year! Just typing this brings tears to my eyes. In a world where such horrible things happen, it is inspiring to see people are coming together for people they don't even know.

Well, I knew it was coming because this is America after all. There are people that like to gripe and I know many like to cling to cynicism. There are some who think that perhaps the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a gimmick, silly, ridiculous, and a stunt where people's intentions are wrong. They complain that takes money away from other causes. There are some that wonder if it even brings any real awareness to the disease.

Well, here is your glass half full girl to give you some perspective today. For those that say:

It is a stunt: You're right, it is a very successful publicity stunt. It is so simple, we are all wondering why we didn't think of it ourselves. Let's face it, not all of us can run a 10K, do a three day walk, dance for 36 hours straight, or climb 96 flights of stairs, but all of us can dump some ice water on our heads from the comfort of our own homes to raise money for a worthy cause (my friend Sara who lives in CA where there is a drought even dumped her head from an already running public fountain so as not to use excessive water). Believe it or not, people want to do more than just hand over a check. This appeals to that sensibility in people but also making is simple enough for all of us to participate. Also, the social media aspect cannot be compared to any other fundraising campaign. My guess is this will get the ball rolling for other organizations to try and figure out ways to cleverly use social media in this way. To  quote my friend, Mary Tyler Mom, "ALS hit a home run with this effort, which went viral because of its simplicity."

Some People's Intentions Aren't Right: Perhaps people just like the attention and self promotion on their Facebook page, that is fair to say I guess. However, they still are raising money for a good cause. When someone is running a marathon for another charity, do you stand on the sidelines and remark about how they are "just doing it to get fit?" My guess is not.

It Takes Away Funds from Other Causes: There have been several articles written about how the money donated by people will cause them not to donate to other causes that they normally would. There is part of me that understand that this is a real concern for many organizations. However, I also know that from my fundraising days people give when a) a charity is personal to them b) it strikes a chord with them c) their friends are urging or asking for donations. The point being, if a person hasn't donated to the Humane Society yet this year, chances are they probably weren't going to. I know this sounds cruel, but it's true. People donate to what is important to them or where their heart is. For whatever reason, this is striking a chord with people, and friends asking friends to donate is what is keeping it going strong.

It Doesn't Bring Any Real Awareness to the Disease:  Let's be realistic, when you have this many people participating in this challenge, you cannot expect everyone to say exactly what you want them to say in regards to the disease in their videos. However, more people know what ALS is than they did yesterday which is evidenced by the amount of donations (hello $15.8 million!!) More people are visiting to make their donations and learn more about ALS. It is in the social consciousness, now. People know about it, are Googling it, asking questions, and wanting to help. That, my friends, is a win!

If you don't like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, then just move down your newsfeed, and look at other topics that interest you today. Because while I am a person that feels people should speak their mind, I am also one that thinks discretion should be used in some situations, and this is one of them. I find it very hard to believe you'd be speaking your mind so freely if a person with ALS was sitting in front of you while you complained about a fundraiser that benefits him/her.



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