Crafting Purpose-focused Food & Lifestyle Brands

Don’t Throw Cold Water on the Ice Bucket Challenge


What We Learn When Serendipity Happens

While the ALS Ice Bucket challenge has mostly received positive attention, the naysayers eventually showed up to throw cold water on the whole idea. Some of the gripes range from the claim that the campaign shifts charitable giving from one cause to another, to concern whether ALS charities use the money wisely, to the belief that because ALS is a rare disease and affects so few people that, perhaps, it doesn’t deserve all of this attention.

Nonetheless, by many measures, the Ice Bucket campaign is a huge success– tens of millions of dollars raised for research, hundreds of millions of people made aware of an awful disease, and the support and participation of every major public figure in our galaxy.

We can’t ignore the power of the peer-to-peer economy, driven by young people.

For marketers and nonprofit development professionals watching the campaign from the sidelines, John Bare, vice president of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, offered insights in a CNN.com story as to why he believes the campaign is a success and what nonprofits and others can learn from it. Some of the points, while obvious to more savvy marketers and fundraisers, are worth pondering and include:

Embrace Peer to Peer

We can’t ignore “the power of the peer-to-peer economy, driven by young people.” Nonprofits and marketers must embrace this new future (or perish).

Word of Mouth Drives Donations

You are far more likely to respond to a request from a friend or a peer to give money or volunteer than you are to a request from an organizational fundraiser or representative.

Serendipity Happens. Run With It.

You can’t make this type of campaign success up. As far as the story goes, the Ice Bucket Challenge was homegrown, not created by an ALS charity. So, part of the campaign’s appeal is the fact that it wasn’t planned or manufactured in a conference room somewhere. When serendipity happens, the key is being prepared to run with it.

Informal Can Trump Formal in Campaigns

While overall charitable giving does not fluctuate greatly from year to year, the informal influence of “peer to peer connections” may in the future trump appeals that originate from traditional voices of “authority.”

Read Bare’s full article at CNN.com.