While social media is deluged with videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads in the name of ALS advocacy and philanthropy, other healthcare not-for-profits can find marketing lessons in the challenge that they can use for their own fundraising efforts.
Chief among those lessons, be it for a disease-linked effort or a new hospital wing, is the power of grass-roots marketing. Another is to convey a sense of urgency about contributing while personalizing your appeal because people relate more readily to people than to faceless causes, marketing experts agree.
To call the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has its origins outside of the official not-for-profit ALS organization, an Internet sensation would be an understatement. Without the association having to pay the costs of a traditional fundraising campaign, it's become a national phenomenon, attracting the attention and support of actors, athletes, musicians and even former presidents who have doused themselves in ice water and then challenged friends and colleagues to do the same within 24 hours or donate $100 to the ALS Association. And from the looks of it, many people have done both.
“One of the reasons this worked so well was because it was grass-roots driven. As it was passed from person to person, it gathered so much momentum,” said Caryn Stein, vice president of communications and content at online fundraising platform Network for Good. “The other piece was that it tapped into the idea of social networks, not just as a technology, but as a mode of our communication.”