Is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Working? Numbers Say Yes!

Gates ALS

Over the last few weeks, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral prompting millions of videos. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge marketing campaign was created to help find a cure for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, by raising awareness and collecting monetary donations.

We’ve all seen the videos on our news feed: People dumping water over their heads and issuing a new challenge to their friends. In a recent post on the official ALS Association blog, President and CEO Barbara Newhouse explained :

“This is a creative way to spread ALS awareness via social media and in communities nationwide…”

Pete Frates, resident of Beverly, MA and a victim of ALS himself, helped to push the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge marketing campaign to viral status early this August. The premise is simple. After receiving a tag from a friend, you either:

  • Donate $100 to the ALS Association and avoid the bucket; or
  • Donate a smaller amount (recommended at around $10) and pour a bucket of ice cold water over your head.

Is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Marketing Campaign Effective?

Some people argue the campaign is counterproductive. In taking the challenge, participants are avoiding donating the full amount to the cause. So is this campaign a flop?

The results so far give a pretty resounding answer: The campaign is an overwhelming success!

Let’s look at the numbers.

As of August 27, 2014, the ALS Association has raised $94.3 million from over 2.1 million new donors. Compare that figure to this time last year, when the organization had earned only $2.5 million over the same period.

This means that in the one month the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge marketing campaign has been viral, the ALS Association has collected more than forty times what it made over the entire course of last year. Why is that?

Well, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is not only a way to raise money. It’s a way to raise awareness. With social media outlets like Instagram and Facebook, people can connect to hundreds, thousands, even millions with the message. And with the viral videos wallpapering the news feed of nearly every website, ALS has finally been given the focus fundraisers have always sought.

The more cost effective option makes it feasible for nearly anyone to participate. Although ideal, the $100 donation might be out of some people’s price range. And the option to take the “challenge” and make a video challenging others has gotten more people involved than ever before.

That includes celebrities and other well-known figures who are donating thousands as well as completing the challenge, thus spreading the message even further.

So YouTube uploads are spiking. And well-known figures like Bill Gates (who built a machine to dump water on his head, pictured above) and Charlie Sheen (who decided to do something…different) are issuing big-ticket challenges to their colleagues. And the collections continue to increase by the day.

Finally, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge marketing campaign has given those who suffer from the disease a chance to speak. Anthony Carbajal, a professional photographer who has been diagnosed with ALS — his mother and grandmother were also diagnosed — recently uploaded a video of his own. (Watch out. Some of the language in this video is strong.)

There is a fun part in which Carbajal spoofs a car wash video and challenges talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and singer Miley Cyrus to participate. But the video also gives a sobering look at a person suffering from the disease and allows Carbajal to speak candidly (sometimes through tears) of the fear he feels facing it.

The ALS Association has posted instructions on its website for completing the challenge. There are also hashtags including #icebucketchallenge, #alsicebucketchallenge, and #strikeoutals and some downloadable graphics to help spread the word via social media.

Image: YouTube


Aubrielle Billig Aubrielle Billig is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. She covers business as it is impacted by pop culture, entrepreneurs in the arts, and other topics affecting creative businesses. She has a background as an illustrator and her design page can be found at AubrielleBillustrations.

6 Reactions
  1. It’s been pretty amazing to see how many people are participating.

    Videos are popping up everywhere.

    Amazing campaign, for sure.

    The Franchise King®

  2. But I have to say, so many people from other countries are not donating $10 and just pouring water over their heads.

    • It’s likely happening across the board, not just other countries. Some folks genuinely don’t have the full picture or don’t understand the rules and are just doing the challenge. I guess, either way, whether they make a donation or not, it’s still raising awareness.

  3. The most important thing is that the funds that were needed have been and are being raised. It shows the power of what can happen when people come together to help – the power in numbers. I wish we’d all remember how powerful we actually are individually, and as a collective, and apply it often.

  4. Theresa Christensen

    My ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) symptoms started out with a “foot drop” on my right foot. From there my right leg lost all muscle tone and after a while the entire right leg muscles were gone. Also my fingers and thumbs “contract” at times. Left arm was losing muscle tone too.The neurologist. started me on Riluzole , to reduce symptoms and slow down progression but I could not tolerate them for long due to severe side effects. I decided to adopt a more natural approach and started on ALS Disease Natural formula from THE HERBAL GARDENS, the ALS natural formula immensely helped my condition, it reversed my ALS. my slurred speech. And then the inability to eat without getting choked, strangled, and coughing. and others gradually disappeared. Visit THE HERBAL GARDENS via their official web-site This ALS natural herbal formula has improved the quality of my life greatly, Since the procedure I enjoy walking the dog for my daily exercise. DON’T GIVE UP HOPE!!!

  5. Muriel Jamieson

    This was great, I have been researching for a while now, and I think this has helped. Have you ever come across Kykuyu Health Clinic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis HERBAL FORMULA (just google it). It is a smashing one of a kind product for reversing ALS completely. Ive heard some decent things about it and my buddy got amazing success with it.

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