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Motive Behind The Popular ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE - Education - Nairaland

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Motive Behind The Popular ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE by SirRomeo: 4:05pm On Sep 05, 2014
We’ve done it in onesies, we’ve
done it with desert sand, Matt
Damon’s even done it with toilet
water. But phenomenally
successful as the ice bucket
challenge may appear, what
kind of long-term behaviour
change potential does it really
Over the last month, Facebook
walls have been drenched in
videos of people taking part in
the ice bucket challenge. From
scantily clad celebrities
showering themselves in ice, to
friends, family and the cookie
monster doing their bucket
thing, to a group of very merry
Irish nuns gleefully dousing one
another, it’s been a challenge for
anyone using social media to
But while the eye-catching stunt
raises momentary awareness of
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
(ALS) – also known as motor
neurone disease – and is
reported to have raised over
$100m to date , opinion is
divided as to the longer-term
impacts of the ice bucket
challenge, just as it was over the
likes of movember and
#nomakeupselfie in the past.
Putting aside the justified
backlash spearheaded by those
dismayed by a campaign centred
around disposing of water in a
world struggling to cope with
areas of widespread drought and
a lack of clean drinking water,
how does the ice bucket
challenge measure up?
Miriam Laverick, head of
campaigning at PR agency Four
Colman Getty , points out that
when it comes to raising the
profile of ALS and the ALS
Association, this campaign has
been a significant achievement.
She said: “They have had way
more than their 15 minutes of
fame. Charities campaigning on
diseases like cancer are always
going to have a bigger presence
in people’s lives, so to cut
through into the public eye and
become part of everyday
conversation in this way is a big
success. You could even argue
that media critical of the
campaign have contributed to
raising awareness of a disease
that people knew little about
It’s this awareness that Rachel
Collinson, digital innovation
consultant for Xtraordinary
Fundraising believes is a key
catalyst for long-term behaviour
change. She said: “People change
their behaviour when it becomes
a societal norm. The ice bucket
challenge is going a long way to
make giving to charity part of
that normal pattern of
behaviour for anybody, and
shaming those who don’t. Like it
or not, that’s what happens.”
Niel Bowerman agrees that the
ice bucket challenge was a run-
away success for those raising
awareness about ALS. However,
the co-founder of the Centre for
Effective Altruism argues that
overall the campaign has the
potential to do more harm than
“Evidence suggests that people
have a total ‘donation budget’,
so donating more to one place
means much less to another –
something my colleague Will
MacAskill refers to as funding
cannibalism ,” he said.
“Different charities have
different cost-effectiveness – for
example, the ALS Association
estimates that it costs on
average $200,000 per year to
support someone in the final
stages of the disease. In
comparison, the cost of an extra
year of healthy life from
distributing bed nets to tackle
malaria is only $100. You could
therefore argue that if the ALS
fundraising drive has moved
money from a more cost-
effective charity to a less cost-
effective one, this would be
harmful overall.”
While Collinson is acutely wary
of this method for assessing a
campaign’s effectiveness, seeing
it as “an incredibly narrow
definition based on capitalist
economics and some
fundamental assumptions about
what makes life worth living”,
she and Bowerman agree that it
is vital to ensure that a viral
campaign is translated into
ongoing commitment if the
benefits of that campaign are to
be realised. There are three
pieces of advice Collinson would
give the ALS Association:
educate new donors about the
difference their money will
make; start a thank you
campaign that aims to be just as
viral as the original; follow that
up quickly with a series of
welcome messages explaining
more about ALS and countering
some of the rumours that have
circulated about their spending.
The lesson? Being prepared and
proactive matters. Kony 2012 is
a memorable example of a
publicity disaster that ensued
when the campaign’s success
span out of control without
adequate resources to support it.
At the time, Dan Pallotta wrote
that the three founders of the
campaign against the Ugandan
rebel warlord, Joseph Kony,
were being attacked “not by
Kony, but by critics whose
voices are raised louder about
this video than they ever were
by Kony’s atrocities”. This
chimes with Laverick’s assertion
that many organisations are not
used to unleashing a campaign
over which they have little or no
control once in the public
Ultimately, doing just that has
paid off for the ALS Association.
Now only time will tell whether
they can convert their highly
successful viral campaign into
one that engenders positive,
long-term behavioural change.
Critics are dubious. And even if
a proportion of their current
donors do engage with the
charity and its cause on a deeper
level, there will always be those
who argue that the money
should have been directed
elsewhere to start with.

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