How Social Media Has Forever Changed Fundraising

social media fundraising

Since July 29th, which is the earliest reported date of the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” ALS has raised over $22 Million dollars and added 453,000 new donors (so far) to aid in the research of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, for which there is currently no treatment or cure. That’s compared to just 1.7 million at this time last year and it’s all a result of social media.

So, how did it happen? How did ALS use social media to increase their donations from 1.7 to over 22 million and counting?

They didn’t. The “ALS ice bucket challenge” started out as a challenge to take a bucket of ice over the head within 24 hours of being challenged or donate $100 to a charity of your choice. ALS was the charity of choice for former Boston College pitcher, Pete Frates, who is currently battling ALS. Ice and ALS don’t mix well, so doing the ice bucket challenge himself wasn’t possible. With Pete’s dedication to getting the word out about ALS, he challenged some his famous friends to do it on his behalf via Facebook, and they did. It caught on quickly and the rest is sure to make social media history.

It’s also sure to raise many questions on how to repeat such social media magic.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is proof that one person can change the world. Especially with a tools like social media and a little help from friends who believe in your cause. Many people were unaware of ALS, what it is, and how it impacts those who have it until the ice bucket challenge videos and posts started showing up in our social media feeds. We all became curious about it. It’s created the perfect social media storm, it’s raising millions and millions of dollars, and here’s why.

The Use of Video

People challenging one another on video, while taking the challenge themselves, carries the momentum forward. “I did it, now you do it” – on behalf of a great cause. No harm, no foul. It’s personal and creates a personal connection between challengers.

It’s a Public Challenge

Who doesn’t love a good challenge? It’s hard to ignore a public challenge that’s been put out on social media where everyone in the world can see it, and encourage you do it.

A challenge to do something silly and harmless while showing a small bit of vulnerability mixed with peer pressure from around the world is going to pack a real punch in getting people to take action.

It’s for the Greater Good of Others

Do something to serve others and people stop, take note and start showing up.

We are hard-wired to want to help one another, it’s a human condition. Challenge people to help one another and you will likely get a great response. It would’ve been hard to find anyone who wasn’t familiar with the ice bucket challenge just three weeks following Pete’s Facebook request to his friends.

The “One-Up” Opportunities are Endless

People not only enjoy a good challenge, they also love the opportunity to “one-up” each other in good fun. The “I’m going to do you one better…I’m going to get the whole football team to do the challenge” is having a huge impact on how it’s caught on.

The saying “go big or go home,” drives creativity in people. There is no shortage of variety or creativity out there regarding how people take the challenge and how many people they can get to do it along with them. People are having a fun time with it and it’s created a lot of social media entertainment.

It’s Created a Sense of Community

To be challenged is to be part of something meaningful, important, memorable, historical and fun at the same time. To be challenged means someone thought you’d do something silly like dump a bucket of ice on your own head for a good cause. There’s even “ice bucket challenge bloopers” making the rounds out there on social media…and it’s all in good clean fun.

The ice bucket challenge is the same kind of magic that occurred when the yellow Livestrong bracelets made their way through being hottest trend in giving to charity. It brought with it awareness. There’s a bright light shining on ALS and people are taking note and opening their wallets because they want to help.

Create your own perfect social media storm by using these techniques in your strategies to get noticed or create a following. When you show up ready to serve, the world somehow gets behind you and things just work themselves out. Go big or go home!

Bucket Photo via Shutterstock


Nadine Larder Nadine Larder is a small business growth and marketing expert dedicated to helping small business owners. Nadine Larder is the Author of The Secrets I Share With My Friends: Everything I Know About Building a Small Business. Nadine is also the Founder of PrinterBees, the one stop marketing shop for small business, where her passion for helping small business owners is always center stage.

5 Reactions
  1. The Ice Bucket Challenge was extremely popular, and successful. It seems to have subsided somewhat now.

    It was fun and it was for a good cause. Lots of people wanted to be a part of it. I think celebrity support might be another advantage to add to the list. Lots of them participated, which likely helped too.

  2. This is because fundraising can now be done virally. The Ice Bucket challenge is a good idea to raise awareness, money and social media shares all at the same time.

  3. Just simply amazing on how people cooperated to make the ALS ice bucket challenge. This simply shows that we all do care for each other and who would have thought that a simple silly thing could go that long and trending across the internet.

    • I like how things – good things – can catch momentum. I like when people get together for a good cause – when the power of each individual contributes towards something super powerful. Every little drop makes an ocean.

  4. I changed up my ice bucket challenge in that I donated the funds to The Humane Society of Grove and Grand Lake. Although I’m a Californian, my daughter lives in Oklahoma and volunteers her time as a pet handler and also serves as a board member for this organization.

    Realizing the endless efforts these men and woman put forth, and knowing they are trying to raise money for an upgraded facility, I decided to put my donation there. I think that’s the beauty of social media and fund raising opportunities. Keep it safe, fun, entertaining while boosting the funds of a well deserved organization. I loved it!