The ALS ice bucket challenge so far has been the most successful marketing/fund raising campaign by a non-profit in recent memory. It has all the element of a “dream campaign”: It caught on globally. It went viral on the internet. It got a lot, make that A LOT of people talking about a disease that was previously relatively unknown. AND, it raised raised more money than anybody expected.
Not surprising, there are those who did not like the campaign. Many for good reasons:
Some felt it was too gimmicky.
Yes, I can see that.
Some feel that it promotes a sense of false charity – that by dumping a bucket of water on their heads, people feel that they have done a “charitable act”.
Got a point there.
Others object to the fact that the campaign wastes a valuable resource in many parts of the world – clean, drinkable water.
Although not as strong an argument (in my opinion), but there is some validity there.
And, lately it seems more and more people are objecting to the campaign, or raising an eyebrow when talking about it, because it is raising too much money. Much more than the original target.
This one, I don’t get.
I am reading posts on social media (FB, twitter, etc) that says “ALS has raised enough money and awareness with this campaign. It’s time to give money to other charities.” Others do some “research” and come up with the old “ALS only spends x% of their funds on research while y% is spent on fundraising and overhead”, implying people should stop giving money to them because their donation won’t go towards “helping people”. This is another giant myth about charities that I LOVE to talk to people about, but that’s not the point I want to make today. For that, listen to Dan Pollotta’s awesome TED talk who presented the argument against the “they spend too much on overhead” myth better than anyone I have heard.
But today, I want to focus on one question: Why do we feel a need to punish a charity for being “too successful”?
We never do it to for profit companies (“Son, tomorrow we are going to start drinking Pepsi, because Coke is making too much money”). Why would we say things like “We believe ALS has generated enough money and awareness already…” Have you ever heard anyone say the same thing about cancer research, or AIDS relief, or world-hunger programs?
It is not my intention to preach a sermon here. I simply want to point out one simple fact: Everywhere we turn in the world today we see HUGE problems. We see GIANT sized issues. These are the issues that many, many charities take on to hopefully solve. We need to get rid of this attitude that says “Be suspicious whenever a charity raises too much money.” Yes, ask question about transparency. Yes, do research to see how a charity operates. But don’t clip its wings by saying things like “They have raised too much money already.” We have Goliath sized problems in the world. Charities go up against them, sometimes hopelessly outsized like David. Let us not go and make the fight even tougher by taking away the stones.
A final point: Some people have encouraged others to do the ice-bucket challenge and donate the money to other worthy causes. It is not my intention to criticize them here. They made the suggestions out of a spirit of good will and we all know we need more of that in the world. But consider this:
Your church started a fund-raising campaign to pay for a new program. You designed a kick-ass poster that for sure will motivate people to give. You put up the posters all over the place. If I go to your posters, and where it says on the poster “make your donation to ABC church”, I put a giant sticker over it with the name of my organization instead. How would that make you feel?
I wrote this post because it is my conviction that in order to begin solving these huge problems in our communities, we need people to work together: business sector, charities, churches, temples, etc. In fact, that is the one part of my job that I am most passionate about. But working together is not as easy as it sounds. The first step towards building that kind of environment is an honest spirit that respects and honours the work done by others and what they bring to the table.
Ok. End of rant. Now back to 0ur regular programming