The Ice Bucket Challenge was the viral phenomena of 2014. Despite its critics it has gone on to fund an important scientific gene discovery in the progressive neurodegenerative disease ALS, the ALS Association says.

The BBC has reported that  Scientists have identified a new gene contributing to the disease, NEK1. Therefore, although it became somewhat painful to come on to Facebook and see video after video- it was all worth it in the end. Even these more painful examples of the challenge…

The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $115m (£87.7m) by challenging people to pour cold water on themselves, challenge someone else to do it and post the video online.

The money raised has funded 6 research projects alone. With many people using the challenge to fund other charities that were more closer to their heart or relevant to their friends and family.

How was the money spent?

Many people were sceptical on how the money would be spent. Sometimes this is founded in illogical expectation or genuine mishandling of funds. Logically, nothing in life is ‘free’. The people whom work for charities still have bills to pay and food to buy. So every penny of the pound/dollar you donate won’t go straight to research. It may be used to stop the people whom run the charity needing charity themselves; i.e. a living wage.

The ALSA reports it has spent around $47 million of the $115 million raised thus far, with two-thirds allocated toward research in five different areas: disease model development, gene discovery, clinical trials, identification of biomarkers  and drug development. Close to 20% of the money has been spent on patient and community services;  11% that remained has gone to education, fundraising, and processing fees.

According to Charity Navigator’s Acting COO Tim Gamory, ALSA has been very open and transparent about its spending. They have an  easy-to-read infographic as well as a detailed list. “We commend them for making information really transparent on their site,”.

What did it achieve that money can’t buy?

Firstly, it gave coverage to not only to ALSA but also many other charities and cause. However, its biggest non-monetary achievement was uniting people around a common cause and activity.

Like it or not most of us are disconnected from everyone else. We go about leading our everyday lives. We occasionally stop to be outraged at a world event and then go back to our normal routines. We meet only a microcosm of the billions of people that live in the world. Most of the time when we do meet some of them whom we do not know, we view them as strangers and different.

The ice bucket challenge and to a lesser extent Pokemon Go has uniting people around doing the same positive activity. It has made people talk, share and participate in something with their fellow human. Even if they may never meet them in real life or even if they are a friend whom they do not get to see on a regular basis. The nomination and challenge enabled people to feel apart of a chain of connections that span around the globe. Kind of like a positive pyramid scheme without the negative impact of old people loosing vast amount of money!

If you are cynical about people simply having fun whilst doing a good deed then I hope you are spending every waking moment doing good deed after good to prove you aren’t a hypocrite. It is better that someone does a good deed and enjoys doing it than someone stays cynical of a viral trend but does no good deed at all. We could debate altruism all day long; why not just do something for someone else regardless of personal benefit or cost.

What has been the downside to the Ice bucket challenge?

There have been so many attempts to recreate it’s viral impact that we have become saturated with challenges. Which is both good and bad. There is only a limited amount of empathy and charity in the world. Example, most people might give some money to the first homeless person they see. However, if you carried on walking and saw 5 other homeless people, most people will keep waking and pretending they don’t exist.

This is the same for challenges. With so many challenges people are less and less likely to participate in them. Much like empathy for news stories. With more and more terrorist attacks people’s reaction gets slightly less impactful and outraged each time. Events and challenges go from fun novelty to mundane normality.

With that said there are still many worthy challenges to participate in. So please check out this simply good deed and bracelet challenge. It doesn’t involve any ice, buckets or videos. Simply do a good deed for someone else

Let us know your thoughts

Did you participate in the Icebucket challenge?
How much did you raise?
What is your view of charity?
Please like and share; challenge someone to think a little deeper

by Antoine Allen