According to Wikipedia – yes, it’s already in there! – ‘the Ice Bucket Challenge, sometimes called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on one’s head or donating to the ALS Association in the United States. It went viral throughout social media during the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2014.’
The challenge has been highly successful in fundraising terms. As of 18 September, the ALS Association had raised $15.6 million since 29 July – compared to $1.8 million in the same period last year.
There have already been many articles written weighing up whether it’s a good or a bad thing. Both the Nonprofit Quarterly and the Chronicle of Philanthropy provide summaries of some of these. One obvious criticism is that the whole thing trivializes charitable giving – and of course ALS, which stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neurone disease. Another is that it seems to suggest that donating to pouring a bucket of ice-cold water might be better than donating to charity.
British charity Macmillan Cancer Support already has different rules, which get round this particular difficulty by asking people to pour ice-cold water on their heads and donate to charity (which it is of course hoped that people will do anyway). ‘Just challenge someone via Facebook or Twitter to have a bucket of ice-cold water poured over their head in exchange for a text donation to Macmillan.’