It seems like all I see these days on Facebook is people throwing a bucket of ice water over their heads to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research. These people would film the video, post it to social media, and tag a few friends, telling them they have 24 hours to either replicate the challenge or donate $100 to ALS research.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a degenerative disorder that affects voluntary muscle movement in the brain and spinal cord. This debilitating disease can leave individuals fully paralyzed and unable to perform daily tasks.
The social media campaign was started by Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. Recently, the campaign went viral, resulting in 10 times the amount of donations to ALS research. Among those who completed the challenge includes Martha Stewart, Ethel Kennedy, Mark Zuckerberg, and even New Jersey Governer Chris Christie.
The question remains: How effective is the Ice Bucket Challenge
The two goals here are:
1) to raise awareness of ALS and
2) to donate to the ALS Association in the hopes of finding a cure.
The Ice Bucket Challenge does both very successfully, making something as unpleasant as getting ice water thrown over your head seem universally fun or exciting for those who choose to participate. People have a chance to be involved in something bigger than themselves and feel like they’re making a difference in research.
While the donation amount has significantly improved with this challenge, I hope that the people throwing ice water over their heads are also making donations to the ALS Association. The amount of money spent on ice and a bucket as well as the time it takes to go to the store, film, and post to social media could be spent donating or convincing other people in your network to donate. Otherwise what’s the point? You end up freezing, at risk for a head cold, and no one gets helped.
Social media has become our platform for showcasing our best (at sometimes our worst) selves. But for those who are making the effort to go out and buy the ice and the bucket, think about turning that call for attention into a call-to-action and donate the money regardless.