By now either you or someone you know has gotten drenched by a bucket of ice water and/or written a check to the ALS Association. It is estimated that close to $100 million has been raised by the ice bucket challenge, a brilliant and I would guess probably unmatchable idea and social phenomenon. Social media outlets feature former presidents, celebrities and even swearing toddlers with everyone in between getting ice water dumped on their heads. I have been transfixed as many of you, and watched many friends and people I wish were my friends getting drenched.
What I like about this is the spotlight it’s shown on ALS -- we are now each a bit more familiar with the disease, which is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. I love that folks have been willing to donate money to this issue, and not simply get ice water dumped on their head on Facebook. I also have really enjoyed watching some of the ice bucket fails – not when someone actually gets hurt, but just the funny things happen to folks accidentally.
Not to throw cold water on this (I could not resist), but what concerns me is the unrealistic expectations this phenomenon sets up for other charitable organizations. There is now tremendous pressure to come up with some idea that rivals the great ice bucket challenge of 2014.
First, I really do not want to see this concept repeated for every important issue, it is just not going to work that way. Although ALS Association did not come up this idea, they are the organization that successfully led this issue globally. I remember when working in the field of child abuse prevention, the “go to” idea for that EVERYONE suggested that the best way to raise money and visibility at that time was Oprah. “Let’s get Oprah to come talk,” was repeated too often at planning sessions. If we received $100 for every time that was suggested we would have raised a great deal of money. I can already picture well-meaning volunteers in nonprofits across the country saying: “I know! We should do the ice bucket challenge!”
Here at NCCF we remain steady in our support of charitable organizations that match your interests and passion, no ice water needed.