At first it seemed like nothing more than hype — as early as last week critics were calling foul, accusing shivering ice bucketers everywhere of “slacktivism” — doing something to make themselves feel good, but not really making a difference.
But now the numbers are in on the viral sensation of the ice bucket challenge — in which friends dare each other on social media to dump a cooler of ice over their heads or donate money to the ALS foundation, or both. And the numbers are real. Between July 29 and Aug. 20, the ALS Association has raised over $30 million. To put that in perspective, in 2012 the organization took in about $19 million for the whole year.
It's a self-perpetuating, cost-free cash cow. It's a social media phenomenon that didn't just raise awareness — it actually raised cold, hard cash. So what made it work, and can other causes recreate it?
The ice bucket challenge was kicked-off not by the ALS Association, but an individual who suffers from ALS. Peter Frates, the 29-year-old former captain of the Boston College baseball team who was diagnosed in 2012, kicked off the campaign with his network of sports fans and players for teams like the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, according to Time.com. Soon other sports celebrities joined in, which led to more celebrities.
People are more likely to follow a cause that's personal. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that people are more likely to feel sympathetic to a cause that has an “identifiable” face behind it.
It's easy and light-hearted
Causes can get heavy, but gimmicks like the ice bucket challenge keep it easy and fun. Unlike a fun run or a food drive, it's easily achieved and shared in a snap. And instead of keeping the focus on a heavy issue, the focus stays on something that's light-hearted. Movember — the challenge in which men grow mustaches to raise money for men's health issues like prostate cancer — has the same appeal.
Experts theorize that it's harder for people to keep focused on tragedy or trauma.
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier