If you have been on social media and/or the Internet in the past few weeks, you will notice a plethora of videos being posted of the same exact thing. An individual thanks another individual for their nomination, nominates a few others, pours a bag of ice into a bucket of water, then proceeds to dump the bucket of ice water on his/her head. The people they nominate have 24 hours to also dump a bucket of ice water on their heads and/or donate money to ALS. This is being referred to as the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.”
When I began seeing these, a few different thoughts went through my head. First and foremost, “How does dumping a bucket of water aid in providing support and services to those with ALS?” My next thought was, “Wait, what is ALS?”
ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It is a progressive degenerative neurological disorder and affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The onset of ALS causes the muscles to atrophy and become extremely weak. Eventually, the number of muscles affected increases. ALS often causes death within three to five years of the initial diagnosis. Causes are unknown and a cure is unknown. Currently, 30,000 Americans have ALS, and there are 8,000 new cases diagnosed per year. i
Now that I know what ALS is and how serious of a disease ALS is, I’ll get to my next question. “How does dumping a bucket of water aid in providing support and services to those with ALS?” In the literal sense – it doesn’t. Dig deeper though. How many others see people dump water on their heads, realize it’s for ALS, then do what I did, and google, “What is ALS?” Awareness is a main goal for causes. People can’t aid in the fight if they don’t know a particular cause exists. Similarly, people are unable to donate time or money if they aren’t aware of a cause! The awareness alone is a win for ALS; however, this is not the only positive that has come out of the Ice Bucket Challenge.
A Huffington Post article, published on August 11, headlined “Ice Bucket Challenge Leads to 1,000% Spike in Donations to ALS Association.” Awareness leads to donations! Whether small or large, every single donation counts and is appreciated by a not-for-profit organization. The ALS Association’s national President, Barbara Newhouse, said donations to the national office in a ten-day period that ranged from July 29, 2014 through August 7, 2014 came out to approximately $160,000, up from $14,480 that was donated in the same period in 2013.ii Since August 11, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has only gained more exposure and elicited more donations. An article published by Forbes.com reported as of Tuesday, August 19, donations were up to $23 million.iii I’m sure this number is going to continue growing, just as the Ice Bucket Challenges are continuing to multiply on social media pages!
As a marketer, it’s always interesting to see what goes viral and the impact that a viral video and/or post can truly make. The Ice Bucket Challenge has worked wonders for ALS awareness and donations, and can be an interesting social model for other causes out there. If you’d like to donate time and/or money, or learn more about ALS, visit this informational ALS page. If you have another cause you’re passionate about, be sure to spread the word via social media. Maybe you’ll start the next viral phenomenon.