By Olivia Deng, InBusiness Editor
While individuals are queuing to pour buckets of ice over themselves and post it on social media, does it really raise money for the cause? Or is it merely a glorified wet t-shirt contest?
Individuals who choose to partake in the challenge constantly post messages such as, “I was nominated by Sam to do the #ALSIceBucketChallenge and I nominate David, Grant and Sara. You have 24 hours to do it, or you must donate $100.”
The message itself does not incentivize individuals to donate. Rather, it encourages people to make a video of ice being poured on themselves. It insinuates that donating is a punishment for not being quick enough to partake in the ice pouring.
Yet on August 27, the ALS Association stated that they have received $94.3 million in donations during the period July 29 to August 27, a $92.2 million increase from the same time frame last year. Clearly, there seems to be great fundraising advantages to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
In some campaigns, awareness has to be distinguished from making a direct call-to-action. Prior to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, not many were aware of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Now, the once-obscure disease has been brought to national attention.
Likewise, when a company promotes its product or service, it must first catch its customers’ attention. Only after capturing attention can the company convert its customers, ending with a call-to-action. Oftentimes, companies will separate their marketing initiatives; one for raising awareness and its public profile, and another for targeting a more specific audience.
Then what are the drivers for the revenue streams for the ALS Foundation? It cannot simply be too many individuals who were not quick enough to dump ice on themselves. It can be inferred that in addition to completing the challenge, people are also opting to donate; the two are not mutually exclusive.
Where does this money go? According to Charity Navigator, which analyzes charities, the ALS Association allocated 9 percent of its budget to administrative expenses and 17.8 percent to fundraising expenses.
But is this sustainable? Probably not. After all, instead of having a steady flow of money, the ALS Association had an injection of funds from the viral challenge.