What Your Nonprofit Can Learn From The #IceBucketChallenge


Image courtesy of Montreal Gazette Image courtesy of Montreal Gazette

You’ve definitely seen it pop up on your social media feed.

And chances are, you’ve been challenged to it.

With over 150,000 new donors so far this year, and over $10M raised for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research, the #IceBucketChallenge took the Internet by storm a few weeks ago and is showing no signs of slowing down.But what makes the Ice Bucket Challenge so successful? And what can your nonprofit learn from ALSA’s fundraising success?

Here’s what's made the campaign the most successful social media movement in recent memory, and what your nonprofit can learn from it to improve your fundraising potential.

    1. Peer pressure, for good

      Before someone completes the ice bucket challenge, they have an opportunity to nominate the next 3-4 individuals they would like to see complete the challenge. The infamous: “everyone is doing it” never helped so many people, or raised so much money for a great cause.

      People give in to the peer pressure of the #IceBucketChallenge because of its viral nature, and the inexplicably good feeling of being a part of something “bigger than yourself.” People yearn for the opportunity to be a part of a movement, and that is exactly what the #IceBucketChallenge has become.

      2. Inherently shareable

      The inherently shareable nature of the #IceBucketChallenge is what has made it such a huge success. By combining a video, forcing a direct connection with friends on social media, and the act being for a good cause, what you have is the perfect storm for viral social content.

      Think about your own nonprofit’s past social media fundraising campaigns. Do they require a photo or video? Do they require social engagement between friends? What ways can you incorporate these two imperative features of social media with your nonprofit’s next social media fundraising campaign?

      3. It’s easy

      Whether it’s in a bath tub or outside, the #IceBucketChallenge’s best features is how easy it is to do. It requires almost no investment (aside from the donation, and maybe a bucket), a camera or camera phone (which almost everyone has one of the two), can be done almost anywhere, and anyone can do it. Combine these factors with the 24-hour time limit, and what you have an easy to make recipe for social fun.

      4. It requires social engagement

      We can’t stress this enough, the fact that the campaign requires you to tag 3-4 people who you intend to “challenge” is really the engine that makes the #IceBucketChallenge juggernaut go. Users of social media tend to get push notifications whenever they’re tagged in a post by another user. If your nonprofit’s social media fundraising efforts do not include a similar mandate, finding a way to incorporate this in your next campaign could be the best fundraising decision you ever make.


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Topics: Fundraising, Industry News, Social, nonprofits, nonprofit technology, nonprofit, social media

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