Despite Naysayers, #ALS #IceBucketChallenge raises awareness… and a buttload of money #$15Million


If you use any form of the internet, you are certainly aware of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. If not, learn about it on the ALSA (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association) website. Since the Challenge began, I have seen/read a lot of skepticism, including among many scientists, about the utility of this viral social media marketing scheme. Would it raise any money? Would it raise awareness? Is it just social media slack-tivism

Personally, I think the Ice Bucket Challenge is completely justified if only to raise awareness of ALS. ie. any resulting ‘awareness’ of ALS or biomedical research from this campaign makes it completely worth it. As an ALS researcher who constantly meets people that have no idea that ALS is Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or even what that means, makes awareness of ALS hit especially close to home. Clearly, the popularity and celebrity of the Ice Bucket Challenge prove that people are at least being exposed to the fact that ALS is a disease… and a bad one at that. This alone, makes the whole campaign worth it to me.

HOWEVER, besides raising awareness of ALS, the Ice Bucket Challenge also aimed to raise money for ALS charities. At first it was unclear if this would actually happen, and even if it did how worthwhile it would be (Check out this post from Michael Levine, where he carefully breaks down the numbers and explains how expensive biomedical research can be). Luckily for those affected by ALS and ALSA, the naysayers were wrong. ALSA reported today that it has raised over 15 million dollars since the campaign took off!!!! Compared to ~2 million dollars in the same time last year. That is incredible! Check out the ALSA website for info on how they plan to spend this money. Below is a summary of priorities from the ALSA website:

  • Funding groundbreaking research in laboratories across the globe. We presently support 98 active projects and recently announced $3.5 million in funding for 21 new projects led by the world’s top scientists. The ALS Association has championed some of the most significant discoveries to date.

  • Providing vital support and care services through our nationwide network of chapters to people with ALS and their families in the form of support groups, medical equipment, respite grants and more, all while ensuring the highest standards of multi-disciplinary care through our Certified Treatment Centers of Excellence.

  • Empowering ALS advocates to encourage their elected officials to support and advance issues important to the ALS community; and convening the largest gathering of people with ALS every year in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the disease and support government programs designed to help find a treatment and cure for ALS.

The viral popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge (raising ALS awareness), and the amazing amount of money raised by ALSA, argue that this ‘marketing campaign’ was EXTREMELY successful. Although I am slightly biased in support of ALS, it would be great to see this campaign or similar campaigns for other diseases that lack the support seen for cancer etc. Hopefully, any awareness raised by the campaign for ALS will translate to awareness that biomedical research needs to be a higher priority for society!

 Check out CauseScience doing the Ice Bucket Challenge!

3 thoughts on “Despite Naysayers, #ALS #IceBucketChallenge raises awareness… and a buttload of money #$15Million

  1. Pingback: #ALS #IceBucketChallenge Blooper Reel | CauseScience

  2. Pingback: Update: #ALS #IceBucketChallenge has raised more than $22 million raised #CrazyAwesome | CauseScience

  3. Pingback: Kudos ALS! …but what about NIH? | CauseScience

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