In Defense of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Let me preface this post with saying that it is not directed at any one person.  I have seen these issues brought up time and time again and suffice it to say, I have strong feelings about the challenge and the people dumping all over it. (see what I did there?)  This is my opinion and that is all.

It’s gotten me quite downhearted to see all the negativity that has arisen around the challenge, something that is supposed to be a good, positive thing that we can do to help with ALS.  But of course humanity being humanity, we can never keep the good, we have to tarnish it somehow, and seeing these arguments all over facebook is enough to make me want to delete my account so I don’t have to see it.

It’s not even the specific thing – in this case the ice bucket challenge.  I don’t know anyone with the disease, I don’t have a special passion for the cause.  It’s just that it has been fun to watch and done a lot of good.

People call it “slacktivism” but hey it’s totally important to post your bra colour on your facebook status for Breast Cancer.  Surely doing so will help the cause and I’m sure there’s a woman somewhere who has just had a double mastectomy who is totally comforted and thrilled that you posted “pink with polka dots” as your status.  I’m sure she’s not at all fucking offended by the fact that everyone thinks they’re helping breast cancer that way.  You wanna help? Donate some money.  And not to the shitty Susan B Gorman pink ribbon bullshit either.

That aside, there have been a few common issues raised in all these positions against the challenge, so I’m gonna try and address them one by one.


1. People saying “if you really want to help, donate!!”

Guess what? You still have to donate if you pour the bucket of ice over your head. The original deal was, donate $100 to ALS OR pour a bucket of ice water over your head and donate a lesser amount, say $10.  To date the challenge has raised over $90 million dollars in the space of a few months, in comparison to the $55 million that was raised in all of 2013.  That’s amazing.  And it wouldn’t be possible if it were only people who didn’t do the challenge donating.  The people dumping the water are donating too.  They have to be, with numbers like that.

2. Waste of Water

Ok, sure.  To a degree I get this.  Fresh water is a limited resource.  There’s a drought in California.  So many people don’t have the access to water that they need. True, true and true. And if you don’t feel comfortable doing the challenge because of your feelings about these things, I applaud you.  Convictions are great.  But judging other people for doing it is shitty. I’m not saying all water loving challenge deniers are judging, but some certainly are.  But I’m sure they don’t:

-take showers

– take baths

– run the water while they’re brushing their teeth

– use swimming pools or sprinklers (for them OR their children)

– run a half loaded dishwasher

– rinse dishes unnecessarily

– wash your clothes

– water a garden

– drink bottled water

– steam food

use the toilet

I think you see my point.  I’m not saying the ice bucket challenge doesn’t waste water.  I’m saying it’s negligible and before you get up on your high horse about other people doing the challenge, well, remember that you shit into clean fresh water every day.

3. People doing it for attention

The challenge is highly populated by celebrities, who certainly do not lack attention, and a lot of the non-celebrity types loathe being the centre of attention.  I don’t want attention and I did it.  And yes, there are certainly people who are doing it for the attention.  But who cares?!  They’re still raising awareness and raising funds.  Win/win.

4. Let’s hope the charity uses it as intended

The ALS association of the united states gets 4 out of 4 stars on charity navigator.  They have a 90% score out of 100. Broken down, for financial they score and 87.2% and for accountability and transparency they score 97%.  I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty comfortable with that. There are some radically uniformed people citing a 2012 report stating that the ALS association only donated 7% to research in 2012, and that is just not true.

If you look at the amounts going SOLELY to research grants that money was 17% of their revenue.  If you include the structures necessary to doing research (salaries, telecommunication, publishing, etc) that number rises to 25.3% That’s not a lot, you say? No, but it also doesn’t mean that the charity lines their pockets with the other 75%.  People forget that research isn’t the only thing this charity does. They also cover patient and community services (30% in 2012) and public and professional education (12% in 2012).  Administration costs were 11.5%.  Salary accounted for approximately 5% of revenue/assets.

Which, I might add, was just over $20 Million in 2012,  Current status of the money from the ice bucket challenge?  94 MILLION since July 29th.  So, based on the 17% directly to research grants in 2012, if we apply that to the 94 Million that brings us to 15.9 Million DIRECTLY to research grants. (Compared to 3.4 million in 2012.) And that’s not including education and services, which I have no problem having part of my $10 go to.

5. There are other charities that need it more

Yeah. maybe there are.  Go ahead and start your own grassroots fundraising campaign.  More power to ya.  Or do the ice bucket challenge and donate to a different charity, I’ve seen people do that.  Regardless, no one has the right to tell me what the “best” charity for me to spend my money on.  How do you know I don’t already donate to other places? (I do.  Over $1000 a year to the United Way.)  Besides, who gets to decide what charity is the Best? Do you have time to research every charity in the world?

At the end of the day it comes down to this.  There is no “wrong” way to do charity.   It’s as simple as that.

5 thoughts on “In Defense of the Ice Bucket Challenge”

  1. I’m glad you said not all people not doing the challenge are judge-y. My rant on it and my opinion didn’t mean to come off that way, my reason for not doing so is something I’m passionate about and there’s nothing wrong with that, as you said. When I have the money for it I do plan on donating some, but I won’t be dumping ice on my head that is all.

  2. Everyone is entitled to their opinion for sure, but I do have to say that you did come across as judgemental to me. I know you didn’t mean it that way, but that’s how it read. It’s one thing to say “*I* won’t be doing it and here’s why, because of X, Y, Z” and another thing to say “I won’t be doing it and you shouldn’t either, because of X,Y, Z.”

    By putting your opinion out there but only talking about yourself still gives people something to think about and make a decision for themselves.

    Instead it seemed to me like you were saying “don’t do the ALS ice bucket challenge donate to help first nations’ peoples access to fresh clean water instead.”

    I don’t know, I guess I just find it frustrating to see lots of people tell others they’re doing charity wrong.

    And mostly this post is about the people who are posting things that are PATENTLY WRONG like the 7% number from the 2012 report.

    I’m just frustrated, but it certainly isn’t directed at yourself or anyone specific.

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