August 19, 2014
Pouring ice water over your head (and then posting a video of the stunt to social media, of course) has become philanthropy’s feel-good hit of the summer, garnering as many as 1,887 tweets per minute.
As Forbes.com reports, people challenge each other to either douse themselves with cold water or donate $100 to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Apparently it works: Those who opt for the cold but don't write a check have helped spur more than $4 million in donations from new and existing donors.
But the surge of donations from the “Ice Bucket Challenge” doesn't end there. The ALS Association alone has raised $15.6 million in donations for the between July 29 and Aug. 18, compared with $1.8 million during the same period last year, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball star, is afflicted with the fatal disease. Frates helped conceive the idea of the Ice Bucket Challenge, a summer equivalent of the “polar bear plunges” that raise money and attention for ALS during the winter. "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon is one of many celebrities who have participated in the events.
Some dismiss this season’s challenge as showing off in place of real involvement that might alleviate the suffering of those with the disease — “narcissism masked as altruism,” to quote Arielle Pardes of Vice.com.
In terms of the attention that it draws to the participant, showboating under a torrent of ice water may not be any different than competing for auction items at big-ticket charity galas, Forbes.com writes. The site reports that young people participating in the ALS drive are leading to more participation, awareness, involvement and donations.
Fundraising experts say that the challenge has “the perfect storm of elements,” the Journal notes, making it difficult for other charities to replicate. — Greg Beaubien