Note: I have not yet been challenged by a friend or family member, but I did make a donation to ALS before I wrote this.
An act of charity is never a bad thing. Making a tacky video on Facebook to get out of performing charity, however, isn’t as great as some are claiming.
You’ve all heard of the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which, according to the videos, is meant to raise awareness of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The problem, however, is that we are all already aware of the disease. What the disease needs is money.
And yes, the viral videos have raised millions of dollars, but not from the people who are dumping ice on their heads as an option to avoid giving $100 to the cause.
Now, if you’re a person who has donated to ALS after being “challenged,” you can stop reading. You’ve done your part, and for that, we are all grateful. But if you opted for the cold shower instead of giving money, you have to admit the whole charade looks a little tacky.
Instead of giving money to a worthy cause, you opted to do something uncomfortable and a little painful, then post about it on Facebook in hopes you’ll get a few “likes,” all while passing the responsibility to donate down to a few tagged friends.
So that was the first stage of the viral revolution. The next step – the one we’ve all seen the last few days – involves shaming those who are questioning the motives of the challenge by posting links from articles that show how much money these videos have raised for ALS.
Again, if you gave money, you have every right to defend your decisions. If you didn’t, you’re digging an even deeper hole by posting examples of how much money other people have given.
“But the videos are raising awareness,” you might say. I would counter by asking if they’re raising the right kind of awareness. Most of these videos don’t provide a link for others to donate their money, and there’s no discussion about what a horrible, life-ruining disease this is. Unless someone in your family has died of ALS, you probably don’t know much about it. Try a little harder when you’re challenged; Motivate others to give their money when you make these videos.
Linking to stories like this, when you post your video, might help the cause even more than your 15 seconds of frozen fame.
Finances are tight for plenty of us, I know. The $100 set as the bounty for completing the challenge is an arbitrary number. ALS, like many diseases, needs your money, and foundations don’t care if it’s a round number or not. Give whatever you can to the cause, as long as you’re not giving $0. Don’t dump ice on your head because you couldn’t afford the $100 price tag.
Here’s a suggestion: offer a certain donation for every “like” your video gets. It doesn’t have to be a dollar, but it should be something that will add up to a decent donation. You know how popular your average Facebook post is; Put a little effort into the challenge to help the cause.
These videos need to achieve something, because they can be worthless. If you’re going to raise awareness, do it the right way.
Dry off and make a donation, no matter how much or how little.