Mark Grimm


Ice Bucket Lessons for Nonprofit Fundraising

The ice bucket challenge will be a fixture in PR classes for years to come. More than $100 million was raised in a month, about 35 times more than the same time period last year. The awareness of ALS has skyrocketed.

What was the secret to the amazing success?

1- Social Media
Everyone on Facebook is a publisher today. These “editors” determined it was newsworthy and gave the story life.

2- Genuine Origin
The story “went viral” because the challenge began with someone with ALS, Peter Frates, who issued a challenge to other athletes.

3- Visual
If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth even more. Getting an ice bucket dumped on you is visual and visuals count. And since everyone reacts a bit differently, each video is somewhat unique.

4- Technology
Without ease of use, technology fails. It’s become so easy now to tape and post video from smart phones, the masses had a chance to participate…easily.

5- Something New
Most fundraising is about copying what has worked before — walks for the cure, charity golf tournaments, etc. There’s no substitute for a clever new idea in today’s communication universe where people’s attention is a precious commodity.

Today, your good cause has company. There are thousands of them and all of them have access to the Internet. Think out of the box, be visual, present genuine stories and keep it simple.

Maybe you can produce the next big thing.

 The writer is a communications/media consultant and speaking coach.