What makes efforts like the Ice Bucket Challenge successful for nonprofits?

August 27, 2014

What makes efforts like the Ice Bucket Challenge successful for nonprofits?

The success of the ALS Association's Ice Bucket Challenge, the social media phenomenon where individuals are nominated and have to douse themselves with ice-cold water, give to the charity or, ideally, do both, is inspiring a lot of conversation. The challenge has been successful in terms of both raising awareness for ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called Lou Gehrig's Disease – and in generating donations as well. The ALS association has raised approximately $22.9 million in less than a month, according to CBS Boston, thanks to the viral nature of the challenge and its popularity on social networks. In the same time period in 2013, the ALS Association raised about $1.9 million.

The staggering increase in overall donations and of general awareness means it's difficult to criticize the campaign. There are reservations about participants choosing to douse themselves instead of donating, which is a choice that's condoned by the ALS Association. Of course, the nonprofit would prefer to increase contributions as well as awareness, but growing at least one of these two important resources is better than none.

So how can nonprofits create a campaign along the same lines? The Nonprofit Marketing Blog highlighted a few of the components that made the effort so successful. The social nature of the challenge, both in terms of sharing on Facebook and connecting with others is obviously important. The ability to challenge others ties into this. The novelty of the challenge has also played a big part, as well as the seasonally appropriate idea of cooling one's self with a bucket of ice water. The simplicity and consistency of the challenge also make it an easily spread concept. These are all qualities that can be incorporated into other nonprofits' efforts to raise funds and awareness. While a mimic campaign may not be as big a success as the Ice Bucket Challenge, using similar techniques will improve chances for greater success.


Ready to chat?
Get in touch today to request a no-obligation savings evaluation.


We first started using First Nonprofit’s Unemployment Savings Program when we were a small startup nonprofit.  We didn’t have an HR department and needed expertise in the event that an unemployment claim was made.  We knew we were eligible to be a reimbursing employer, but weren’t sure how to navigate that process.  They made it easy to set things up, plan for, and then manage claims when they came at a very reasonable cost. The amount of time and stress they’ve saved us dealing with all this has been worth way more than the cost.  We’ve now grown to a large nonprofit and do have an HR department but have no plans to stop using their services.  I highly recommend them to every nonprofit I come into contact with!


Throughout our membership in the Unemployment Savings Program, First Nonprofit understood our demands, community dynamics, and the importance of seamless services; that allowed us to serve our constituents better.

Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL

Because INCS advocates for the operating conditions that allow charter public schools to provide high quality public education, partnering with First Nonprofit was an easy decision. First Nonprofit’s unemployment programs provide our member schools two operating elements crucial to their ability to provide high quality public education: savings and budget certainty. Capable, committed teachers are the key to student success. By participating in the unemployment insurance savings plan, charter public schools gain peace of mind and are able to invest more money in their teachers.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Chicago, IL

It has been our sincere pleasure to maintain a strong, vibrant business partnership with First Nonprofit. We greatly admire their strong industry knowledge, technical expertise, constant professionalism, knowledgeable and dedicated staff. They are always extremely responsive, personable and provide us with the necessary guidance and recommendations on a numerous variety of employment scenarios.

Thresholds, Chicago, IL

NYCON members who use First Nonprofit’s programs enjoy enduring savings and improved efficiency. Our association knows that success, because from the beginning, we achieved the same great benefits. Great savings, seamless technology, and responsive service. NYCON highly recommends First Nonprofit’s remarkable unemployment solutions.

New York Council of Nonprofits, Albany, NY

Visually Impaired Preschool Services has been a client of First Non-Profit since it was first offered as a benefit of VisionServe Alliance. We completed a thorough evaluation of cash savings to our agency before taking advantage of this wonderful benefit and it has been a very wise decision. Our experience with the processes from accounting to claims have been professional, expeditious and easy.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

Luckily for us, our interactions regarding any issues with staffing has been very minimal! I can say that all other interactions with regards to billing, 941 reporting, etc. have been extremely pleasant, accommodating and easy to work with. Kim Ghanayem is always prompt, professional and friendly. Thank you so much!

Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ

First Nonprofit has been easy to work with and makes the administrative process easier and smoother. We enjoy working with you.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY