The Ice Bucket Challenge
The latest “success” in the viral video world is the Ice Bucket Challenge. You can’t deny its success with over $94 million raised in donations since July 29 by the ALS Association and its 38 affiliates across the country. Yes, even I participated. You can check it out here:
But this challenge raised just as many questions as it provided solutions! One of the questions that frequently popped up was, “Why ALS”? The simple answer is “why not?” but it’s never that easy. Some would argue that ALS doesn’t affect that many people, so why should they get all the attention when there are many other diseases that affect many more people? According to the ALS Association’s website, approximately 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS every year, and as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time. For comparison, roughly 1,500 people die every day in the US from cancer. Twenty-nine million have diabetes. Looking through this lens, the question of “Why ALS?” becomes a bit more understandable.
All this said, we need to keep in mind that one person’s suffering is not more deserving of attention or support than another’s. These are all serious diseases, and any trend to raise funds and awareness to help alleviate the damage caused is worth your time and support.
A second question that pops up from time to time is, “Why not just donate?” That’s also a great idea! Why look stupid (and some of them were really stupid!) and freeze yourself? Creating awareness these days requires an over-the-top idea or action in order to catch on and grab peoples’ attention. Creating content for social media is also a challenge. So putting something on Facebook that is silly – something other than your plate of food – will capture people’s attention.
“What about the water shortage?” Okay, get creative: jump in the ocean, dump the bucket over your head in a fountain that recycles water, water your garden – caring about our environment is another great cause, and this challenge offers you the perfect opportunity to impact two great causes at once.
So what can you do?
Change the rules!
Encourage others to donate to a charity of their choice, or like we do at AHF, support a charity that advances health and wellness.
Definitely Donate! But make a big deal of it. Tell people what organization or cause you are donating to, and let them know why it matters. There were even videos of people writing their check, which I think is a fantastic idea. Promote your cause and your interests!
Be smart! Being sensitive to the additional issues raised by this action brings more awareness to the issue; in this case, the water shortage. But be smart in other ways too – don’t dump the ice water on yourself while sitting on a horse!
In the end, I think we have to realize that social media is another form of marketing in order to get our message across. Utilizing it in the best possible way can bring awareness to the causes that we care about. Maybe the next idea you have won’t become viral, but it can bring awareness and attract donors, which is ultimately a win.
We can all swing for the fences and also be happy with a bloop single to get on base!
-Nancy Sasaki, Executive Director
Allaince Healthcare Foundation
About Alliance Healthcare Foundation
Alliance Healthcare Foundation is a San Diego-based nonprofit which works with nonprofit, government and community agencies to advance health and wellness throughout the San Diego and Imperial Counties. AHF works to serve the most vulnerable – the poor, working poor, children and homeless by providing grants, advocacy and education to support its region.
To learn more about our grantees visit here: AHF’s Grantee Page