After the #IceBucketChallenge

We knew it was only a matter of time before we got tapped for the #IceBucketChallenge, the phenomenon that is sweeping the globe.

And we were.

However, here in Central Texas we’re in the midst of a multi-year severe drought, so dumping a bucket of ice water over our heads seems a bit, well, wasteful. We’ll opt out of the cold shower and make a gift to support research into treatments, cures and prevention of the neurological disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a noble idea.

Meanwhile, all over the world, nonprofit staff, boards and volunteers are trying to figure out how they can replicate the #IceBucketChallenge to benefit their own worthy organizations.

Nonprofit staff are being told they need to come up with something that will go viral (never mind that you can’t make anything go viral; it has to be an organic process in which people buy into the idea and they choose to participate). Already a group in India has started a copycat movement called the #RiceBucketChallenge, which encourages people to feed the hungry (also a noble idea).

Professional fundraisers are shaking their heads, wringing their hands and issuing statements that while the response and the cause it benefits are just wonderful, this isn’t a sustainable fundraising model that helps nonprofits in the long run.

And they are right.

Giving needs to be a cultivated mindset if we hope to see transformative impact

Philanthropy isn’t as simple as creating a video showing folks getting doused and gasping from the shock of icy water. Nor is it be about wearing a yellow wristband (or the rainbow of copycat wristbands that followed) to demonstrate that you are among the cool folks who are in the know and do the right thing.

Nor should it be about cutting off your hair or shaving your head to help or show support for cancer survivors, or occasionally stuffing change into plastic boxes at fast food restaurants or texting a donation during a hastily produced telethon after the latest disaster.

While those gifts cannot be discounted and the organizations who receive them appreciate them, they are in reality fleeting feel-good acts that lack long-term impact. Philanthropy should be much more than a cause de jour.

We propose the #365BucketChallenge which encourages you to be thoughtful and strategic in your giving, The #365BucketChallenge urges you to commit to making recurring gifts to support the infrastructure and services provided by nonprofits, many of which are just as obscure as ALS was before the #IceBucketChallenge.

Are you in?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *