Want to help ALS? Stop dumping water on your head, and…

Want to help ALS? Stop dumping water on your head, and…ALS pic

…talk about the work that the ALS Association does.

Or, talk about why funding ALS research and ALS related causes matter.

Or, actually donate. Or, do just about anything else.

Since I first started seeing the Ice Bucket Challenge it didn’t sit well with me but I couldn’t place why. At first I thought it was just because I’m not personally a fan of kitchy, celebrity band-wagon, social-media-based, armchair-activism. And that’s true. But that wasn’t what was really bothering me.

At the heart of it, why I really dislike the Ice Bucket Challenge is while people will argue it’s bringing awareness, I, along with many others, can emphatically say it hasn’t brought any more awareness to the actual cause.

What is ALS? Why is it something I should care about? How does it impact me? My loved ones? My neighbors?  My community? What is the ALS Association doing about it? How are they doing it?

Those types of questions—and subsequently answers—are what create engaged donors. Sure, this Ice Bucket Challenge may raise a little bit of money but is it really cultivating a donor who is connected to the mission and work? Is it in any way unearthing sustainable donor relationships? Is it furthering the mission and work of the ALS Association in any meaningful, long-term way? Is it anything more than a flash in the pan?

I suppose time will tell.

But I suggest that your organization would be far better suited investing time in communicating your “why” to masses. Why do you exist? Why is it worth a donor’s limited time and hard-earned money to invest in you for an invisible, intangible share in your life’s work? Why does it impact people on a personal, very intimate level? Why are you the best at what you do? Why should they care?


Answer the “why” and look for people who are willing to share that message over taking a bucket of ice to the head.

That is the worthwhile challenge.

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2 thoughts on “Want to help ALS? Stop dumping water on your head, and…

  1. Thanks for this piece, Marjorie! I just found out two days ago that my Aunt has been diagnosed with ALS and after the shock and sadness settled in, I realized: all these ice bucket challenge pictures, and I still had to look up what ALS will actually DO to my Aunt, and how it will affect her and her loved ones’ lives.

    • MDud says:

      First of all, so sorry to hear about your aunt. But secondly, thank you for sharing. That sentiment was the spirit in which I intended this post. While ALS is getting attention in generic terms right now, it’s not receiving genuine attention around what it is, how it affects people and why people should do something other than get doused with icy water. Engaged donors need to know those things, otherwise the traction that comes from this “viral campaign” will be for naught. To me that is a tragedy.

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