2 pros and 2 cons regarding the #IceBucketChallenge

20 Aug


The #IceBucketChallenge (IBC) has been a tremendous money raiser for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Here is a description of this terrible disease from the ALS website.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

I think the success of the IBC is amazing and there’s 2 things that are positive for all nonprofits to draw from. But there are a couple negatives too in my opinion.

PRO #1 – Social media is as good if not better than TV

The IBC points out the immense power of social networks to drive money straight to the cause. And there is a fine point here to make. Heretofore this kind of outpouring was limited to disasters, the TV coverage of the disaster and the use of text-to-give to raise money for the disaster victims.

During these disasters the call to action on TV was omnipresent. The IBC achieved the same thing in getting both social media AND TV coverage. It helps that people with large social media followings got involved in the IBC. At first glance a nonprofit would be thinking that this kind of scale would be impossible for them to achieve. To a certain extent they would be right, however social media helps cover for your nonprofit’s lack of social media scale. Because you are there on social media making the ask you make it possible for things to go viral. Think of it like winning the lottery. You have to have a ticket to win. If you’re not on social media or not asking on social media how do things go viral in your favor?

PRO #2 – Donors will give via their mobile phone

As I followed the IBC on Twitter on my phone occasionally I saw screen grabs from mobile phones which showed their donation confirmation. Given that Twitter is very much a mobile channel (86% of the time on Twitter is on a mobile phone per comScore Dec. 2013) it is no surprise that IBC tweets led to a mobile search for ALS and a mobile gift to ALS.

Nonprofits should stop telling themselves that no one will give via their mobile phone. They do if the experience is optimized for their phone and easy to complete in the moment. To the 84% of nonprofits that still use a donation experience designed for a PC to be their mobile giving experience the IBC success is your wake up alarm.

CON #1 – The world is watching

In 2011 CNN reported this:

“On average, women in developing countries walk 6 kilometers a day to collect water” because there is not enough of it nearby, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero told CNN.

People outside the US see the dumping of water and ice on the ground and their opinion of us can’t be good. I imagine that developing countries don’t have ice in a box waiting for them at all times. What would have been nice is ALS partnering with a water charity to lessen the perception of wasteful, uncaring Americans.

CON #2 – Where was the URL?

I mentioned following the IBC on Twitter and in most of the challenge tweets or the tweets sharing a person’s video of them taking the challenge there was no URL to give to. The impulse to give in this case required leaving Twitter (or other social media channels) and searching for where to give. This adds to the giving process needlessly and I wonder if donations would have been even higher if there had been a URL for the IBC giving page alongside the IBC hashtag.

All nonprofits must seek to shorten the distance between emotion and a gift as well as remove all points of friction in the donor journey from impulse to donation acknowledgement.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.


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