By now you’ve seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge all over the internet, and chances are you have dumped a bucket of ice over your own head.

i had seen links to the challenge for more than a week all over Facebook and the Twitterer before having any clue what it was about [largely due to our lack of internet video-watching ability as we had just returned to SA and were trying to get set up] and when i finally did figure it out, my response was largely like Morpheus himself:


Because the way it was presented by the time i saw it at least was that you could either choose to donate money to charity [specifically ALS which as you all know, stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis [more commonly as Motor Neurone disease in the UK and also Lou Gehrig’s disease based on a famous baseball player who suffered and eventually died as a result of the disease] or you could throw a bucket of ice water over your head.

Which seemed really crazy at first, because all of the videos that i saw links to seemed to be videos of people with ice buckets, not cheque books or big wads of cash.

So you’re telling me you are choosing to do this ice bucket challenge for the purpose of NOT DONATING TO CHARITY???

Didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and in fact seems quite counterproductive if that is really what people are doing.

Turns out a huge number of people ended up doing the donating and the ice bucket challenge [cos who wants to watch a video of someone signing a cheque or doing an internet transaction, right?]

It also turns out that this particular viral challenge brought in the big guns.

From celebrities like Oprah Winfrey,  Tom Hiddleston and Ben Affleck to singers such as Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber and even a former United States president in George W Bush, and big money men like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, it seemed like this was something that was really catching the hearts and support of the people.

i’m a big fan of Jimmy Fallon and no surprise that he made his nomination [from Justin Timberlake amongst a host of others] into a theatrical event which he did alongside his guest, his voice-over guy and the whole Roots band:

Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters had one of the most creative with this recreation of the famous prom scene from the horror movie Carrie [which was fitting as he challenged Stephen King as one of his three]

Matt Damon did his with toilet water as he did not want to waste regular water by dumping it on his head [reminding us in the process that most US toilet water is cleaner than the water a lot of people in the world have access to]

even Homer Simpson got into the swing of things:

So it has gained huge viral attention and been hugely entertaining and some people have started getting really creative with their nominations, but so what? Is it making any kind of difference?


So i was a little skeptical, to say the least, until i came upon a number of articles and stories that seemed to suggest that this might in fact be a good thing.

According to this BBC news story, which you can read in full here ‘From 29 July to 28 August this year ALS received $98.2m – compared with $2.7m donated during the same period last year.’

The United Kingdom was apparently seeing similiar figures, ‘Pre-ice bucket, the MND Association would receive on average £200,000 a week in donations. From 22 to 29 August, it received £2.7m.’

Other charities also started to benefit, with a significant one in England being Water Aid which ‘has seen a spike in donations, including £47,000 in one day – 50% higher than it ever received in a single day before. The money came in part from people bemoaning the water wasted in the challenges.’

Not just from the money side which is obviously a huge benefit to those working in research in terms of trying to find a cure and better ways to deal with the disease, there has definitely been an increase in awareness which was one of the original intentions of the campaign. The fact that it somehow caught the attention of celebrities was a huge boost to this in the social media sharing age we find ourselves in, helping it to spread at phenomenal rates.

It was also very helpful for me to hear from those suffering from the disease and their families:

“I have had MND for 10 years now and for anyone affected by this disease the ice bucket challenge has been the most wonderful phenomenon,” says Euan MacDonald, the founder of Euan’s Guide, a website that features information and reviews about disabled access around the UK.

And this was one of the best articles i read on the topic from the perspective of a family of an ALS sufferer and their thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge, which includes a 10 point ‘Mile in ALS shoes’ guide to give you some perspective on what it is like to suffer from this disease.

Finally this ABC news story sums it up:



So, the Ice Bucket Challenge? Have you taken part? What are your thoughts on it?

From my side, it does seem to have brought a lot of awareness as well as a huge financial boost to those who are working in areas related to the disease and that can only be a good thing.

I would however, suggest that the negative side of the Ice Bucket Challenge is that a week from now the majority of people will have moved on to the regulars of cat videos and internet memes until the next viral buzz comes along and that it might be more helpful for individuals to have a more longer term involvement when it comes to charity [possibly choosing one and supporting it well rather than jumping on every new thing that comes along] and i am still going to agree with my friend Morpheus here…

LATE EDIT: Just came across this article which interestingly gives the percentage breakdown of how the ALS Association spends their money which is eye-opening to say the least with figures for executives ranging from :

  • Jane H. Gilbert – President and CEO –$339,475.00
  • Kathi Kromer – Director of State Advocacy – $110,661.00

Hm. Definitely grateful to be part of something like Common Change where i know that 100% of the money i donate actually goes towards meeting needs. Not that other charities that need to pay  salaries and overheads are a bad thing, but it just feels great knowing where your money is going.