Friday, October 24, 2014

The Chilly Impact of Ice Bucket Challenge

Image: slgckgc in flickr

One of the hottest events this year is Ice Bucket Challenge. Over the world, millions of people have participated in this social event. It's a perfect strategy for a nonprofit organization; analyzing it can reveal the whole theory of how one can utterly jump out the box of traditional money raising. On the other hand, whether it influenced the world in a positive way is an interesting question. I believe that the Ice Bucket Challenge has been financially productive and raised the awareness of the disease in a fun way.

So let’s talks about Ice Bucket Challenge first. It’s a challenge that was spread by media through the ALS Assn in order to raise money (ALS main website)for the ALS patients. The challenge asks you to pour a bucket of ice water on your head, then you can pick others’ names and ask them to do the same thing. Or you can simply choose to donate money, which is suggested to be $100. Since July 15, 2014, when the challenge was first connected with the ALS Assn, according to the latest news, this challenge had brought in $100 million to the organization.

Doing the Ice Bucket Challenge, you can have fun with your friends while helping others at the same time. In addition, it allows more and more people to know and care about the ALS patients. On youtube, 28 millions people have uploaded video or commented about that. The point of this challenge is to be “fun, gamified and highly shareable”. More importantly, it shows people that even if they are an average joe, they can still do something to help others and make a difference. On the other hand, the Ice Bucket Challenge also makes the best used of grass-root power through the Internet. Different from any other donating, many people participated and broadcast through their media, which makes the challenge not only look like a signal of helping, but also a fun game that everybody can join in. It could be a perfect example for other non-profit organizations which want to raise money online.

However, the challenge still has its shortcomings. Many people point out that this challenge is just a fad which can’t remain popular for long. They predict if the ALS Assn still does the same challenge next year, it will probably not get as many funds as this year. In addition, they announced that pouring a bucket of cold water on heads cannot do anything to let people understand the suffering those patients have. They just pretend to feel the unrealistic pain, the patients may see this as an untrue and worthless sympathy, and they may feel hurt because of that. The ironic thing about the challenge is that the group of people who don’t want to donate are the guys who spread this challenge to othersALS is a rare disease, which doesn't have as many patients as others diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes and so on. Only the ALS Assn catches people’s eyes because its challenge became a part of their social lives. Shall we spend more money on the other diseases which have a large amount of people instead of ALS? “The most successful charities will be those that are best at soliciting funds, not those that are best at making the world a better place," as the British philanthropic organizer William MacAskill puts it. (link) Another significant element is that the Ice Bucket Challenge had wasted a huge amount of water. According to the Washington post, “If an average bucket contains 4 gallons of water, about 5 million gallons of water have dunked heads from coast to coast. That’s the equivalent of about 120,000 baths or, in weather terms, over half an inch of rain falling on a 300 acre slab of land. Think of a summer downpour dousing the National Mall, or for west-coasters, Disneyland.” which is an enormous number.

In response, I would say the challenge does have many problems, which need to be improved. But we do help many people through this challenge. Fund is only part of elements to see the donation is successful or not, not all of it. Raising money can be regarded as marketing; the aim of it is to get as much money as possible. Compared to other organizations which raise fund for different disease, the Ice Bucket Challenge is known for its creativity, like I mentioned before; it could be a really lesson to others and make them think of their own way to raise money. You can’t criticize the ALS Assn because others are not that successful at it. Toward the people who spread the challenge because they don’t want to donate, they are just following the rule. The ALS Assn was smart about this point. It deftly used this group of people to broadcast the idea of Ice Bucket Challenge, which allows more people to know and donate if they want. On the other hand, people will only donate when they feel sorry about others and want to help them. Forcing would never make people donate.Though it sounds quite negative, another important advantage of the Ice Bucket Challenge is that you can choose to donate or accept the challenge and ask others to do it. Imagine that, if people have to donate and drag yourself into cold water at the same time without having choices, then the challenge would no longer be fun and as popular as now. In the whole event, without doubt, there have been people who use peer pressure to push others to donate, but they are just a small amount of people; most people donate just because they want to help. After all, the whole process of donation didn't show that it was totally perfect, but it did expose the goodwill and benevolence of people in the society. We do care about others, even if they are strangers. Hope there will have more and more great and funny donation in the future.

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Conclusion, updated  6 November 2014

         As one of the most influential events this year, Ice Bucket Challenge successfully show us the strength and great development space of using  social internet. With all kinds of comments I got from internet, I realized that the challenge was not as simple as I though. The negative part of the challenge hid itself inside the dark side of our mind because we don't want to think about. A fundraising which allow me and my friend to socialize and do some crazy stuffs, and everybody enjoys it and we can help many people at the same time. How cool is that! With no doubt, people's great passion are revealed from the huge number of funds. However, the things we can't see from that is the reason why different people joined in the queue. Were they willing to do it or they were just forced to follow others. The influence of it would always be a good topic to talk about in the future. I really appreciate those who leave comments under this blog. The point we all agree to is that the challenge would obviously affect on the fundraising in the future. But it might be hard to predict how will the further organizations work their projects. Right before I end this big phrase of words, let's talk about some interesting stuffs. In fact, I had not even participle join the challenge, which was kind of sad. I might be the only one who didn't feel the freezing cold through the whole summer. Therefore, I can't write about my personal experience about how it felt like to dump a bucket of cold water on my hairy head and screamed like a 5-year old boy in front of a camera. Yeah... I am luckily in a way. On the other hand, I was thinking about only write the negative aspect all through the article. But then I changed my mind because of the limited resources.  Thanks for reading!

12 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading your article, MegaZ. You did a great job at really examining both sides of the topic. I believe that no matter what you believe about the ice bucket challenge, the fact still stands that donations to ALS research have shot through the roof. After the ice bucket challenge, what do you think future fund raising movements will be like? I, for one, think that they will be great. A few friends and myself all did the ice bucket challenge one day, and we all had a lot of fun doing it. I hope that more fundraisers similar to this one are created in the near future, because I think that they are great ideas that help immensely with people affected by these awful diseases.

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    3. That's a really interesting, Hayden. Frankly speaking, I think the fundraising will try to attract people's attention by using social network, just like what the ALS Assn does. link However, I don't think they will not be as successful as IBC, neither IBC itself. Once the fad passes, not even the others who want to use the skill, the original publisher could neither hardly make the stuff as popular as what he did before. link
      Thanks for commenting. -- MegaZ

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  2. Here's where I learned about the impact of the challenge.
    http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2014/08/26/slides-cold-hard-facts-on-the-ice-bucket-challenge/

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  3. Interesting article on the topic of viral fundraisers, MegaZ! I was amazed to read on one of your links that the challenge initially had nothing to do with ALS, that it was started as an activity for donating to the "charity of your choice." It was the participation of a former university athlete with ALS that really got things going. Do you think every successful fundraiser needs a special person, either a celebrity or someone with a strong personal story, to get people interested? Thank you for a great post. --Ms. Riches

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    1. Thank you for your comment and your interesting question, Ms Riches! Of course, from many successful examples, celebrities or others with a strong personal fundraiser are really helpful to the fundraiser for advertising. However, I don't think it is essential. The elementary key to success is based on the fundraising itself. It would be a good idea to ask celebrities or other famous people to help you broadcast your idea, but it would not be helpful if you have not even complete the theme or rule of your fundraising at all.
      Thank you. -- MegaZ

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  4. Great post, MegaZ! You really highlighted both opinions on the Ice Bucket Challenge. Although some people think the Ice Bucket Challenge wastes water, Americans use 5 to 7 gallons of water just by flushing the toilet, not to mention the 7 to 10 gallons of water per minute taking a shower. So people who criticize the Ice Bucket Challenge could save a lot more water by limiting there usage of water. This Ice Bucket Challenge was the catalyst for many people learning what ALS is, an incurable disease that causes one's muscles to stop working, and it raised millions for ALS research and patient care. I participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Before I did this, I didn't even know what ALS was. But, in talking with my parents about the ALS Challenge, I learned that one of their friends died from it two years ago and another, who is 57-years-old, was recently diagnosed with it and already cannot use the muscles in his fingers or hands well. Thank you for highlighting the many aspects of fundraising for disease research and especially the powerful role that social media can play in it.

    Thanks,
    gvp2000

    Source: http://www.wsscwater.com/home/jsp/content/water-usagechart.faces

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    1. Thank you for expressing your opinion, gvp2000! I just read your link. You are really right about we should pay more attention to save water in our daily lives, instead of just criticizing the IBC. Frankly speaking, I didn't participle the game at all. I knew the ALS by watching others' videos about dumping water on themselves, which seem to be really funny. So it's a pity that I could share my experience. However, most of my friends have done the challenge in nearly the same week, which reveals the great influence of the challenge.
      MegaZ

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  5. I really enjoyed reading your article MegaZ. It brought up a lot of interesting points that I had never really considered about the Ice bucket challenge. I didn't know a lot about it before, and I think you did a really nice job explaining what the challenge was and the significance of it. I think it is really worth noting that things like this are really good for fundraising, but I think you did a nice job highlighting that maybe in addition to fundraising research for ALS, we could also be putting money towards other diseases that affect even more people. Great Job!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Elder! Without doubt, there are much more patients who have other disease than the ALS. But I don't think people should drop the problem to the ALS Assn. The problem is world-wide. The other organizations should be reminded about their way of fundraising could be improved, not just blaming the ALS Assn for taking the money away. Also, people should pay attention to those organizations who are trying to help the major diseases' patients, not just in paying fee, but also respect them in mind.
      MegaZ

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  6. This article in the New York Times comes just a little late for the project, MegaZ, but contains an interesting analysis of why we give and why we like a little bit of pain when we give. Also, while we tend to avoid appeals for money out of fear of being taken advantage of, when the appeal is impossible to ignore we are more receptive. Thank you again for posting on the "Ice Bucket Challenge" phenomenon! --Ms. Riches

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