A short while ago I sent out a series of emails related to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge asking for other fundraising ideas and thoughts relating to the backlash that the Ice Bucket challenge was generating. I am gratified by everyone who shared with me their ideas.
Some of them are shared here, but not all because I didn’t get explicit permission to share them publicly. I’d rather be safe than betray anyone’s intentions.
A respondent shared that she had had to watch her mother die from ALS and how excruciating this was for them both. This reader was extremely grateful to all donors and hoped the effort would continue until a cure was found.
One of the first responses came from my colleague Dr. Larry Watson who shared a short video made by an individual that talked about Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). This is a medical condition that causes bones to be extremely brittle and likely to break if the person falls.
The tie-in to ALS was to talk about the ALS ice bucket challenge, but before having water dumped on her, the person in this video talked about OI and the OI Foundation. She also had a raw egg dropped on her head to demonstrate how easily her bones could break due to this condition.
I thought this was really a more powerful potential fundraising approach because it relates directly to the situation people face. If my bones broke as easily due to a fall as an egg shell does, I would live in some fear every day and the egg drop performance helps me get that!
I had an additional response about a fund-raising effort from Lorrie Wolfe, Former United Way Executive Director, from Loveland, Colorado. She wrote:
My good experience was a “thank-you-thon” phone bank at United Way, held on Valentine’s Day, using senior volunteers who called every one of our current and former donors to say “I don’t know how much you gave. I only know that you gave, and we just want to say thank you.”
That generated lots of good will, especially from donors who had not ever been personally thanked even after years of donating. In the next campaign, we saw lots of increased giving. It didn’t bring in millions right away, but donor loyalty is worth a lot over the long term.
In another email, I listed out the backlash and criticisms that this extremely successful donor recruitment effort was generating. This generated feedback from readers, including a person who once worked for a water conservation nonprofit who agreed this made her very sensitive to seeing water used in a cavalier way, although she was very happy for ALS and its success.
Other respondents indicated they had no concerns about the bucket of water, especially if it was dumped on a lawn. The funding and awareness that were raised outweighed their concern for the water use. “This is a win/win” one person wrote.
A respondent who granted full permission to distribute his comments voiced these ideas:
I think these criticisms are ridiculous. ALS has raised 80+ million dollars for their cause, not to mention awareness, which is the point of nonprofit fundraising. Hats off to whoever came up with this brilliant idea! My only possible complaint is that I didn’t think of it first!
Below are some responses to specific criticisms from your list:
“It can be dangerous to people with certain cardiac conditions.”
It’s not like people aren’t doing this VOLUNTARILY.
“The people who are donating aren’t thoughtful about their gifts.”
Who cares? They’ve raised $80,000,000 and still counting.
“Philanthropy is being demeaned as a serious activity.”
Don’t be such a buzz-kill! Who says philanthropy can’t be fun?
“It’s too much about the giver and not enough about the people with ALS.”
Again, I bet you’re loads of fun at parties. Here’s a news-flash. ALL charitable giving is about the giver.
Feel free to use my responses.
Finally, one respondent educated me on her insistence that all gifts she made to charities were predicated on the organization not harming animals in testing new treatments. An article that was forwarded was critical of ALS researchers using animal testing as a paradigm because there was little connection between what could be found using that methodology in animals and the impact on humans.
After I ended the email series, more people on the web began their conversation about the pros and cons of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Whatever we think of the actual tactic of the ice bucket dump, it’s clear that it has been enormously successful and I wish them all the best in using their new-found donation pool to help end this horrific illness.
While this type of fundraising is not exactly the same as grantwriting, it is certainly related to excellence in nonprofits and funding for nonprofits that I write about.
Thanks for all you do!
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