SHARE

RAISING THE BAR FOR ONLINE ACTIVISM …

liz gunnBy Liz Gunn  ||  I have had a change of heart.  I was wrong.  Those are two statements you will seldom hear from me (ask my husband).

A few weeks ago, my Facebook timeline suddenly started filling up with videos of people dumping ice water on themselves for something called the “Ice Bucket Challenge.”  Over the last three weeks it has reached an all-time high, with nearly everyone I know having participated.

My first reaction to this campaign wasn’t a good one.  I thought it was pointless and filed it away along with all the other examples of lazy activism we see on-line these days. You know, like “Re-tweet/ click like if you are against human trafficking.”

Really?  Who isn’t against that? And what does a click of a button to stop it?  Nothing.  But I digress.

I am also against anything that puts people on the spot or makes them feel obligated to do something.  People should give to a charity of their choice and because they want to, right?  So admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to this one.  I’ll say it again though – I was wrong.

The truth is, this is actually one of the most brilliantly marketed fundraising campaigns I’ve ever seen.  It has currently surpassed the $13 million dollar mark in donations, and has received the attention and participation of celebrities like Bill Gates, Taylor Swift and South Carolina’s own ambassador of awesome, Darius Rucker.

This campaign has even gotten kids involved.  I have seen so many of my friend’s children participating and challenging their friends – or helping them with their own challenge video.  On Thursday, FITS posted a video of Governor Haley’s kids helping with her challenge.  Not only does it make children aware of this crippling disease, it teaches them about philanthropy at an early age.

The challenge “rules” are as follows:

People douse themselves or get doused with a bucket of ice water on video, post that video to social media, then nominate others to do the same in an effort to raise ALS awareness.  Those who refuse to take the challenge are asked to make a donation to the ALS charity of their choice.

The moment I realized how clever it was happened right before I decided to write this article.  After seeing video after video, I finally gave in and googled “ALS.”  Yep, that’s right.  I wasn’t really sure what ALS was.  I am embarrassed to admit it, but suddenly I realized that’s the point.  Brilliant.  Not only are people raising money for ALS, they’re bringing awareness to the disease and more importantly the foundation that fights it on every front.  ALS isn’t ranked among charities like American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and Susan G. Komen.  I feel certain that after this challenge though, people won’t soon forget about it.

The more widely known name for ALS is Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  It’s a degenerative disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It affects roughly 30,000 Americans, usually between the ages of 40 and 70.  At this time there is no cure for ALS, but with a whopping $13 million + “pouring in” … (pun intended), there is hope.

Challenge or no challenge, I commend ALS for the creative, viral movement they created in regards to their cause.  For that alone I will be making a donation, and I hope you will, too.

Or you can take it a step further and …

UPDATE: As of August 19, the ALS Association has received $22.9 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same period last year – including nearly 430,000 new donors.

Liz Gunn is a wife, mom, author, businesswoman, travel enthusiast, food snob, fashionista, lover of great wine and the No. 1 Gamecock football fan … ever.  A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia, S.C. with her husband and daughter.