During the summer of 2014, yet another viral campaign took over social media, sparking many debates and conversations that ultimately led me to this blog post. I think you may already know what phenomenon I’m referring to: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
For those who may still not know, according to the ALS Association,
“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.”
To be honest, I knew very little about ALS until I started seeing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos consuming my FaceBook and Instagram feed. This isn’t the first time something of this nature has stormed the social media world, so what makes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge so unique?
The answer is simple: it supports a cause.
Participants have 24 hours to respond to the challenge, and they have two options: donate or get dunked. To prove that they accepted the challenge, people could share videos of themselves getting soaked in ice water and then nominate anyone for the challenge, thus, continuing the challenge.
Why does this matter?
Well, according to the church mobilizer and social media manager at World Relief Jacksonville, Travis Trice, it was an effective marketing strategy and a positive one for nonprofits focused on fighting ALS. According to an info-graphic:
However, he worries about the lack of knowledge of where their donation money is actually going. He stated that,
“This is actually the one thing that did bother me about the ALS challenge. I had to do some light research before I donated and found out that the ALSA.org practice stem cell research which I believe is wrong. The fact that I had to dig (even if it was just a little bit) caused me not to participate in the challenge or give to ALSA. Instead I found that there were alternative ways to support ALS research and patients. I felt that if anything could have been improved, it should have been the awareness of what organizations were on the table to support.”
While there are a lot of controversies surrounding this campaign, Trice agrees that it was valuable and effective and got a lot of people involved. He also stated that he wishes that World Relief would jump on this viral campaign band wagon:
“I would love to see us host a viral campaign. We have participated and helped lead campaigns before (Such as the ‘End it’ movement), but we have never collaborated to create our own. I also wish we could create more ways to encourage people and volunteers to share their stories.”