The Genius of the Ice Bucket Challenge

"Fundraising is not really about money. It's about people." ~Larry C. Johnson

The recent Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money and awareness for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) was extraordinary by all measures. In just one month, the ALS Association received $80M in donations from people challenging each other to dump buckets of ice water over their heads, or to make a donation to the ALS Association.

Many people did both.

According to Wikipedia, the origin of this fundraiser is unknown, although in May 2014 participants doused themselves in Indiana, and then chose a favorite charity for their donations. A spinoff of this challenge received national attention after being televised on the Golf Channel, after which it was brought to The TODAY Show by Matt Lauer after being challenged by Greg Norman.

The challenge was a stroke of genius, combining something fun while educating a nation about this neurodegenerative disease.

Of course there were naysayers who admonished the challenge by saying that it’s such a lighthearted fundraiser, having nothing to do with the reality of the disease. I don’t agree with that argument. The campaign is awesome, and the amount of money it’s raised is proof of it.

"Charity sees the need, not the cause." ~German proverb

I’ve come across several people in the MS community who have raised the question of whether the fundraisers we’ve come to know are adequately raising enough money for awareness and research that will lead to a cure for MS.

According to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society website, since 1988 Walk MS has raised more than $770 million to support “life changing programs and cutting-edge research.”

Are yearly walks the best way to raise money for MS?

I’m no expert on finance or fundraising, so I couldn’t begin to answer that question. But a staff writer at did address the naysayers, and came up with these three conclusions:

  • It raises money.
  • It encourages people to donate to charity in general.
  • The Ice Bucket Challenge is raising enough money to matter.

What are your thoughts? Do you think these conclusions are what MS fundraisers do for our cause? Do you have any ideas for a different type of fundraiser to raise awareness and money for MS? Let’s begin the chatter now!

"It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." ~Kahlil Gibran

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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