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.


First Nonprofit has saved us so much money over the state’s program. We had one little glitch with the state recently and we contacted FNP immediately. FNP staff called us back immediately and moved to remedy the problem.

WI Council of Religious & Independent Schools (WCRIS), Madison, WI

First Nonprofit has been a great partner. They have helped us saved hundreds of thousands of dollars! They have awesome resources for our nonprofit organization. Thanks for the partnership.

Community Care Inc., Milwaukee, WI

Life is certainly busy these days but having business partners like First Nonprofit has made some of the process hassle free. We have worked with this team for years. When we changed payroll systems, they outlined every step. I think this team is terrific and I know they get the job done! Thank you, Cruz, to all the team at FNP.

Gulfside Healthcare Services, New Port Richey, FL

FNP has helped our agency to save thousands of dollars every year on our unemployment coverage. The service is phenomenal, and we are thankful to their team as our partner. My experience working with Marshall on the advocacy around UE for nonprofits was also a highlight as someone who teaches advocacy and lobbying for nonprofits. Really, your whole team is top shelf, so thank YOU!

Advancing Academics, Turtle Creek, PA

Chicago Children’s Theatre has greatly benefited from our partnership with First Nonprofit, and I have always enjoyed working with the staff on our filings and any complicated questions. I would not hesitate to recommend First Nonprofit to fellow nonprofits. We’re very happy customers.

Chicago Children’s Theatre, Chicago, IL

FNP is a great resource for Daniel Kids. To have a TPA that we can count on to take point on not only managing our unemployment claims, but to support and guide any protest hearing, is invaluable. All the professional support staff we have worked with have been excellent, very knowledgeable and responsive. We are grateful for the help and support, thank you.

Daniel Kids, Jacksonville, FL

When I first began in my position at my organization, I hadn’t had experience working with a company like FNP. The staff was so patient and helpful in helping to explain the benefits of First Nonprofit. Anytime I reach out with a question I receive a quick, clear, and thorough response. I’m so thankful that we decided to partner with FNP. Their excellence in customer service, coupled with their variety of packages frees us up to truly serve our staff and community with a peace of mind knowing that our organization is protected against unanticipated unemployment insurance expenses.

Homes of Hope, Chicago, IL

First Nonprofit gets an A+ in my book. You are so easy to work with & very knowledgeable! Whether it is my quarterly correspondence with Kim or my random interactions with Dawn about a bond … I am so pleased that I get to work with such a helpful company. Thank you!

Women's Choice Network, Pittsburgh, PA