I’m just going to go ahead, put it out there, and welcome your comments. 

I’ve seen a lot of articles and blog posts about the #icebucketchallenge. As with all things that take off and experience amazing success and recognition, the critics have come running.  I can’t help thinking about the grumpy old men from The Muppets, heckling the cast from their balcony seats.

Yes, I went there – that’s what I’m reminded of when I see the posts about how you’re not really helping when you take the Ice Bucket Challenge.  I find it interesting that we’re OK with the usual look at me mentality that runs rampant on social media, yet we feel the need to criticize someone’s success.  Personally, I think the criticism stems from jealousy and thoughts like “why didn’t I think of the ice bucket challenge?”.

Let’s be honest, we all wish we would have thought of it.

I get it. I mean, I’m still a little angry that I didn’t invented the Snuggie. It’s backwards robe or a blanket with arms – such a simple concept. I should have thought of that! But, should-haves don’t get you anywhere in life.

My favorite part of negative posts are the “save the ice for another day and next time just donate to the cause.” But, here’s the thing: Prior to the Ice Bucket Challenge, how many people really knew about ALS? How many people could tell you about the disease?

The Ice Bucket Challenge did its job.

It got people talking about a disease that’s rarely discussed.  I bet if you asked 10 random strangers if they’ve heard of ALS, the majority, if not all, would say no.  If you asked the same group if they’d heard of cancer, I’m willing to bet they’d all say yes. I’m also willing to bet that those same people either know a cancer survivor or someone who lost the fight. My point here isn’t to devalue cancer awareness, but to show that more awareness is needed for diseases like ALS. And if ice buckets, tagging friends on facebook, and our “look at me” culture helped bring light to fatal disease then so be it.

Don’t hate, appreciate.

Facebook finally pays off

Many often wonder how can we raise money from Facebook.  My thought has always been that you don’t raise money through Facebook. People don’t go to Facebook to make donations; they go to engage with people or update their statuses with fabulous life tales.

But, the Ice Bucket Challenge did it!

As of August 21st, the ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations – they did it not by asking their supporters to donate, but by friends challenging friends to get cold or donate $100.  A viral sensation began motivating ordinary people— most with no connection to ALS – to join a cause to shed light on a disease that’s rarely talked about.  Getting people talking is a good thing.  Treatments and cures aren’t found out of the blue; they happen when we start talking about a need. For many causes, starting a conversation is the first step towards making something happen.

Since I’m in a betting mood, I’m willing to go out and limb and say that about a quarter of those who took the challenge also donated.  That’s not bad. That’s great!

Will the Ice Bucket Challenge be a one hit wonder?

Gosh, I hope not. But will it have the same viral appeal next year? Probably not.  I say this only because it’s tough to recreate the organic nature of this year’s Ice Bucket Challenge. But I’m not sure that being a one hit wonder is so bad? Take the Macarena for example —  We’re all still dancing to it at weddings and special occasions. Maybe for ALS, starting the conversation and keeping people talking is what’s really needed now. Thanks to the challenge, the ALS Association has a new challenge how will they begin cultivating 739,275 new donors?

Is slacktivism really a bad thing?

I’ve not really thought of slacktivism before, but the term is being associated with the Ice Bucket Challenge.  There are lots of definitions of slackivism, but it basically means “I did something easy to help a cause and now I feel like I did my part for society”.  Easy things like tweeting a blog post, “liking” something on Facebook, or buying an item where a portion goes to charity.

As I trolled the internet to learn more about the term, everyone seems to dislike slacktivists – what’s to like about someone who doesn’t really do anything  meaningful to support a cause.  But as I read and read… I just kept wondering whether slacktivism is such a bad thing?

Maybe not.  Maybe we need to manage our expectations.  Not everyone is going to be an engaged advocate for your cause from the start– sometimes all someone is interested in doing is sharing a post or liking you on facebook.

Is that such a bad thing?

I don’t think so.  Here’s why Slackivist can help: A post is shared, a friend reads it, it resonates with the friend and that friend becomes an activist. I bet this happens more than you would think.

Instead of being disappointed that we’re a bunch of slacktivists; embrace it.  Embrace our need to share the important and the unimportant –it’s who we are.  It’s our culture; we live our lives on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the world to see.  Times have changed. Like it or not, this is our reality.

Final Thought:

For the all the conversations happening around the Ice Bucket Challenge, I don’t see much talk around the best part of all of this..

$41.8 million dollars has been raised so far. That’s a windfall.

Our slacktivism has given ALS a much needed moment in the spotlight.  According to the ALS Association’s website, the total revenue the Association raised at the end of their fiscal year January 31, 2014 was $29,102,318.  In just a few weeks they’ve raised more than what they raised in an entire year. That’s a pretty amazing windfall.  The Association has a lot of decisions to make about how to use the windfall. But since I’ve been betting through this entire post, I’m betting a big chunk will go to funding necessary research.

And you can’t hate on that.

If you’re wondering about me, well I didn’t douse myself with ice water, but I made a donation in honor of my cousin who recently passed away after a battle with ALS.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Braiterman, principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud, supports customers with their peer-to-peer fundraising events with a process she refers to as “data-driven strategy.” Amy’s data driven strategy analyzes how effective event participants are using online fundraising tools and takes those results to develop an event fundraising plan. Prior to joining Blackbaud, Amy earned her fundraising stripes managing events for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Alzheimer’s Association and Share Our Strength. She shares her fundraising know how here on npENGAGE, by hosting educational webinars and speaking at customer conferences

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