There’s no doubt, the ice bucket challenge is popping up in everyone’s newsfeeds and making an appearance in just about every media outlet there is. For those who’ve somehow avoided the splash and don’t know what we’re talking about: it’s a social media phenomena where people dump a bucket of ice water on themselves, film it, post it on social media, and then nominate their friends to do the same.
It was a thing on its own for a while until Pete Frates, a Boston College student diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), decided to use the trend to raise awareness for ALS research. He posted the challenge with his own addition to the ice bucket challenge rules: if his nominees didn’t complete it within 24 hours, they would need to donate to the ALS Association. Since Pete re-made the game, thousands of people have made videos. That includes a slew of celebrities and bigwigs, who all opted to dump cold water on their heads and donate to ALS research (after they dried off, of course.)
However, amidst all the hype, a few critics have questioned whether this is an effective fundraising method. They mention the term “slacktivists” which refers to those who will ‘like’ a page or share a post and claim to be an activist for a cause, but don’t actually donate or do anything else about it. Well, luckily the numbers aren’t as skeptical as the critics: the campaign has raised $15.6 million since the end of July which is about nine times more than the same period last year. It could be that the slacktivists aren’t donating much, but a lot of other people definitely are. Around 30,000 Americans have ALS, and yet 50 percent of the American public doesn’t even know what it is. And that’s where slacktivists are helping. They spread the word (a lot) and the more people who know about it, the more chances there are for people – who actually would donate – to find out about it.
Other critics claim that, even though the ice bucket challenge is bringing in donations, it isn’t a sustainable method of fundraising. They say the long-term, and usually wealthy, donors are the most valuable to a charity, and a burst of small donations from laypeople is not something anyone can count on. Even if that is the case, many others see this as an opportunity for charities to create more engaging ways for people to get involved in causes and for charities to “learn to be less controlling of their message and donors.”
While opinions may differ, there is no disputing that the ice bucket challenge has made a significant impact. Whether or not you douse yourself in ice water, please visit the ALS Association’s website to learn more about their research and how you can help.