hairylunch (hairylunch) wrote,

Ice buckets, non-profits, and more donations . . .

So, this ice bucket challenge seems to be doing pretty well.

While I'm personally sick of seeding all my various social media feeds overwhelmed with links and videos, commentary, likes, rants, etc, I find the nature of the campaign fascinating. What made this campaign take off? There were previous campaigns of a similar nature, mainly around jumping in cold water (with some horrible stories around it), but they didn't take off - maybe finding bodies of water large enough to jump in prevented those from going uber-viral?

Does the campaign really raise awareness? My gut says no, as I still don't know anything about Lou Gehrig's disease, why it's an issue, etc, and I'm not more likely to donate to the ALSA now. In fact, it's done the opposite, and I'm donating to alternate causes . . .

The fund raising aspect of it is crazy - the press release from August 19th states that the ALS Association had raised almost $23 million, while the press release from the 20th has them clocking in at $31.5 million - that's $8.5 million in a day. Apparently 184,317 donors gave between the press releases . . . that's an average of around $47 dollars a donor. An amazing windfall for an organization that raised $1.9 million in the same time period (July 29 to August 20th) last year. I want to see the timeline graph of donations over time once this is all over and their 990 filing should be interesting this year and next (it'll be interesting to see how their percentage of dollars spent on the cause vs. administration changes).

Who knows what this organization will do with that - I don't know of many entities profit or non-profit, that could gracefully handle a $30 million influx. Do you try to spend the cash and get it out quickly, hoping to benefit folks directly? Set up an endowment, so you can guarantee funding for years to come? Dump it all into research? Bring in more staff? So many opportunities, and could definitely make for an interesting case study for non-profits in the future. To their credit, they're riding this wave well, providing nice updates, press releases, etc.

The tech side of this is interesting too - I wonder if their website ever crashed under the load? It's definitely sluggish now, and attempts to access their donation page (hosted by blackbaud) are sluggish too. There's probably some interesting stories about scaling up to handle this gigantic influx of traffic.

It's also a surprisingly polarizing campaign. I like Charlie Sheen's take on it, but other's think he's ruined it. I tend to support it since I believe most non-profits need cash more than publicity. There's also people criticizing the amount of water that's been used, or just seem negative about it all in general. I mean, come on? You're lamenting the fact that it takes a viral campaign to raise awareness around ALS or that people are doing this publicly, maybe even to boost their own egos? I have expect to see such stories under click-bait links like "You'll never believe . . . " or "Top 5 reasons for . . . ". Let's celebrate the successes for this non-profit and the incredible fundraising they've managed to do.

Even if I'm over seeing the videos, apparently people love seeing their friends and celebrities dump water on their heads, and this thing still has legs. Crazy.

In any case, Kelly tagged me for the challenge around 23 hours ago. I'm not going to have time to dump ice water on myself (and I really don't enjoy being in photos, much less video), so I've gone ahead and donated. Kelly donated to the Micheal J. Fox Foundation instead of the ALSA, and I followed suit since she's the one who tagged me.

The part I like best about this campaign is that it's motivating folks to donate (over 600,000 according to today's press release), and I realize my donating sort of ends the chain, which is why I'm blogging about this, as well as issuing my own challenge of a sort. For anyone who does the ice bucket challenge in the future and lets me know, I'll donate $100 to a cause of their choice.

The "fine print" for this offer is that you have to have done the challenge after I posted this, let me know (tag, message, comment, whatever), and let me know to which organization you'd like me to donate. I'd prefer organizations that can process online payments and that are local as opposed to national, but those aren't hard requirements. I'll do this for up to 4 folks.

Hopefully this does a little bit to keep the spirit of giving to causes you're passionate about alive . . .
Tags: als, donation, non-profits

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