WCVB Boston Anchors Accept the Challenge On Live TV

Recently, we’ve seen a fundraising campaign gone viral in the unstoppable Ice Bucket Challenge, which supports the ALS Association. ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects approximately 30,000 people nationwide and 400,000 worldwide; this campaign has led to over 1.2M videos being uploaded to YouTube.

To put the success of this campaign into perspective: that’s 40 ice water videos for every American affected by ALS.  And the movement is still growing.

So, why has this campaign been such a runaway hit?

5 Reasons The Ice Bucket Challenge is on Fire 

Although it has run up against a little controversy (as we talked about in this article on the value of “slactivism”), this campaign is running strong and – if you’ll permit me a frozen water pun – it’s still snowballing.  Here’s why:

1. Lots of people like an excuse to be silly, and in this case it’s for a good cause.  This challenge gives people permission to let go and be a little goofy, and it doesn’t even require growing and sporting a moustache for an entire month.

2. There is a feel-good payoff for the participant: participants helping out a charity initiative and, as a bonus, posting a selfie-for-good is sure to garner some Likes on their Facebook walls.

3. The “challenge” piece is infectious: calling out three friends or colleagues to take the challenge adds a bit of healthy competition, much like the way a kid would say “I dare you!”  But, this being a charity initiative, there’s more: “passing it on” creates a sense of community as well.  I saw an article yesterday calling the Ice Bucket Challenge a modern-day chain letter, and there’s something to that comparison.

4. It’s easy: anyone with a ready supply of water, ice, a container to hold them, and a smartphone with internet access can manage the Ice Bucket Challenge – including a pantsless James Franco.

5. It’s something that can be done as a group, which leads to exponential growth.  Teams of news anchors, families, companies – as something that can easily be done in teams or groups, awareness can grow at a group rate.


The association is extremely pleased with the results. “While the monetary donations are absolutely incredible,” Barbara Newhouse, president of the ALS Association says, “the visibility that this disease is getting as a result of the challenge is truly invaluable. People who have never before heard of ALS are now engaged in the fight to find treatments and a cure…”

This campaign has attracted high profile participants from the likes of Bill Gates to Ben Affleck, surf legend Laird Hamilton, the Kennedy clan and Today Show’s Matt Lauer (who was initially challenged by golfer, Greg Norman), and even prim-and-proper Martha Stewart. At one point, this Huffington Post Impact article stated there had been a 1000% increase in donations to the ALS organization.*

Since my cohort Leslie wrote her piece yesterday about the Ice Bucket Challenge and the Value of Slacktivism, that value actually went up $10M.  Whoa!

Who would have thought that 2 molecules of hydrogen combined with one of oxygen could so drastically raise brand awareness and top of mind?

UPDATE:  As of Friday, August 22 the Association has now raised $53.3 million.  On August 26th, it is now $70 million!

*As of Aug. 29th, they have raised $100 million in 30 days – Epic!

* Figures courtesy of the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and ALSA.org.