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You completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, now what?

If you were on the Internet at all last year, you saw countless friends and celebrities complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. You probably were even nominated and completed the challenge yourself. We did.

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The goal of the Ice Bucket Challenge was to raise both money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

If you are unfamiliar with the challenge process, it basically goes as follows. Once a friend nominates you; you accept the challenge and prepare a bucket with ice water in it. Then you record yourself dumping the water on your head and nominate three friends to participate. Then you upload and share your video (most likely on Facebook) so all of your friends can see how great of a person you are. Nominees had 24 hours to participate or were to forfeit by way of a $100 donation to the ALS Association.

According to an article in The New York Times, people shared more than 1.2 million Challenge videos on Facebook between June 1 and August 13, 2014and mentioned the phenomenon more than 2.2 million times on Twitter between July 29 and August 17.

The question is, how did the campaign make such a big splash on social media? First, all submissions were in video form. For years people have increasingly consumed video in place of other multimedia, due mostly to its easy consumption and the increased ability to provide the user with a full ‘experience.’ Most Challenge videos did not exceed one minute, costing the viewer a very small fraction of their Internet browsing time. Second, everyone enjoys seeing his or her friends in a compromising position, even more so if it’s a celebrity. Presumably, peer pressure and vanity also played a large role in the campaigns success.

Apparently, contrary to what I thought at the time, a lot of people both participated and donated or just simply donated. Nationally, 2.5 million people donated $115 million to the ALS Association. But where is that money now?

A year since the challenge drenched our social feeds last summer, the ALS Association claims to have spent or budgeted 40 percent of the money, or about $47.1 million. In the future, the Association’s plan is to delegate all $115 million into the five spending buckets listed below.

  1. $77 million for ‘research’: Of the $115 million, 67 percent will go towards finding a treatment or a cure for ALS.
  1. $23 million for ‘patient and community services’: The ALS Association is budgeting money to its 39 local ALS chapters and to 48 ALS treatment centers the association has certified as the best in the field.
  1. $10 million for ‘public and professional education’: This chunk will go towards a variety of initiatives to educate the public about ALS, as well as to help doctors and researchers learn more about how to advocate for ALS patients.
  1. $3 million for ‘fund-raising’: This money will be used for things like data analysis and communication initiatives that will allow the Association to support Ice Bucket Challenge donors. 
  1. $2 million for ‘external processing fees’: Yes, it will cost $2 million to pay for those pesky little things like running credit and debit card donations. The Association also has to pay website overage charges resulting from the spike in website traffic during the Challenge in 2014.

If you haven’t heard, the #ALSIceBucketChallenge will be back this August and continue to take place every August until a cure is found. Can lightening strike twice?

Topics: Agency Life, Social Media