What do I have in common with Bill Gates, Martha Stewart and my 19-year-old son? We all took the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disorder commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Here’s how the challenge works: Make a video of yourself dumping a bucket of ice water over your head, then post it to Facebook, Instagram or another social media site. Challenge three of your friends to do the same or send a $100 donation to the ALS Association, a national advocacy group. Many people are doing both—accepting the challenge and writing a check.
Thanks to this social media campaign, which is taking the nation by storm, the ALS Association raised $11.4 million from July 29 to August 16. That compares to $1.7 million for the same two-week period last year. To date, the biggest criticism is that, with nearly 220,000 new donors, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is detracting donation dollars from other organizations.
For organizations that are considering a social media campaign, it’s important to recognize why this grassroots effort is working:
It’s easy. All you need is a bucket filled with water and ice. Everyone from my 7-year old neighbor to 86-year-old Ethel Kennedy have been seen dousing themselves with water.
It’s fun. Who doesn’t want to cool off on a hot summer day, and then challenge friends to do the same? If that doesn’t offer enough fun, consider the creativity that people are putting into taking the challenge. Television anchor Hoda Kotb let fans pour the water over her head on the TODAY Show Plaza, and NHL player Paul Bissonnette took the challenge to a new extreme by having a helicopter dump glacier water on him while standing atop a mountain.
It builds a sense of community. Whether you actually get wet, watch the videos that are springing up online or on the news daily, or just talk about it with friends and co-workers, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is bringing together people from all walks of life.
So, if you are looking to create a national phenomenon or an employee engagement campaign, take a lesson from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: make it easy and keep it fun!
Have you taken the Ice Bucket Challenge yet? I have. Leave a comment to let us know.