Yes, I know, I know, it’s become 2014 biggest viral stunt has been the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which has drenched facebook walls and on image sharing website Instagram there have been 3.7 million videos uploaded with the hashtags #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge. Justin Bieber’s has been the most popular – with about one million “likes”.

I can’t claim to have that many, but as so many of you have asked, you can check out mine taken on a rainy August Bank Holiday Monday here:

But while the eye-catching stunt raises momentary awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also known as motor neurone disease – and is reported to have raised over $100 million to date, opinion is divided as to the longer-term impacts of the ice bucket challenge, just as it was over the likes of ‘Movember’ and ‘#nomakeupselfie’ in the past and the short-lived publicity disaster that was Kony 2012. Putting aside another backlash spearheaded by those dismayed by a campaign centred around disposing of water in a world struggling to cope with areas of widespread drought and a lack of clean drinking water, how do I think the ice bucket challenge has measured up? The numbers speak for themselves:

From 29 July to 28 August this year ALS received $98.2m – compared with $2.7m donated during the same period last year.

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.

In this country alone, other charities have benefited with Macmillan Cancer Support raising £3m from challenges. Water Aid 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

Average daily visits to the ALS association website were about 17,500 before the ice bucket challenge, compared with the peak of 4.5 million visits on 20 August (of which 83% were new to the site). During the past month there have been about 30 million visitors in total.

Average daily website visits to the MND association have risen from 1,400 to 153,000 on its biggest day – 26 August.

And as of 29 August the ice bucket challenge had 4,483,726 Twitter mentions. ALS Twitter followers had increased from 8,975 in early July to 21,100, while MND had over 6,000 new followers.

Here’s some facts, about ALS in case you still don’t know?

  • Also known as motor neurone disease, and – in the US – Lou Gehrig’s disease, after famous baseball player who was thought to have died from the disease
  • Rare condition where parts of the nervous system become damaged, causing progressive weakness, usually with muscle wasting
  • Occurs when specialist nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord called motor neurones stop working properly; as condition progresses, sufferers find basic activities such as walking, speaking, swallowing and breathing increasingly difficult to do
  • Life expectancy for about half of those with ALS is three to four years from start of diagnosis, but some can live 10 years or longer – Prof Stephen Hawking (pictured) has had ALS for 51 years

Source: NHS Choices


It’s a very British thing to have naysayers on everything that is popular albeit short term or long term, perhaps people want to feel like there independently going against the grain, or just want to be seen to be controversial. Go ahead with the usual negativity even the Macmillan Cancer Association jumping on board but these charities are all very worthy and even if thisn challenge is this year’s short term fad alongside the #nomakeupselfie for Cancer Research UK which raised £8m in six days and had 221,488 mentions on Twitter.

The ALS Icebucket Challenge may have soon run it’s course by October but the money raised will provide a lesson in 21st Century fundraising, using viral campaigns to charitable advantage and providing money to causes that were otherwise struggling or not raising sufficient funds.

“People change their behaviour when it becomes the “societal norm” if it’s for good, where’s the harm in it? If you want to donate to ALS Charity: MNDA, text ICED55 to 70070 or ICE to 70550 for Macmillian. Great causes.