Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth- Why critiques of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are off-base
I’m not a fan of slacktivism. I will not click “LIKE” to share awareness, and Idoubt your meme is the secret to ending war everywhere. That said, I am at a loss to understand the negative reaction by some to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Some complain about the waste of potable water, as if those doing the challenge would otherwise send their water to drought-starved locations. Others talk of bullying, implying that being tagged on Facebook, and not taking the challenge, is the equivalent of having someone steal your lunch money. I myself have passed the 24-hour mark on a challenge (don’t worry, it’s coming) and am still here to tell the tale. Most laughable is that people speak of the campaign as being ineffective, when the ALS Foundation has matched last year’s budget in less than a month.
As someone who has worked in the not-for-profit sector, allow me to explain why complaints like these and others are off-base. There are many important causes out there. I can’t tell you which one is the most important, by any type of scale or evaluation. Even if there was such a scale, people wouldn’t use it. For good and for bad, people give based on all sorts of non-intellectual reasons. Sometimes its the cause, how it effects them, or being asked to give by a friend.
Additionally, there are “name-brand” charities that have a name and attract more donors, and thus have a bigger budget to, you guessed it, attract more donors. With recent changes to GMail and Facebook, charities have an even harder time reaching potential donors with the message of the good that they accomplish. Throw in the fact that donors want their money to only go to the cause, and not overhead, as if the two can be separated, and you have the making of a disaster for the charities that are not already well-funded and on the map.
With this in mind, I hope you’ll be a little more forgiving of charities that make use of “shtick” to raise money. If you’ve never worked in the field, with the pressure of knowing that other people’s well-being is dependent on your efforts, than you just might be “the luckiest man on the face of the earth”.