What do the following people have in common; Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Netflix founder Reed Hastings, and Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg? The answer; they were all nominated by Mark Zuckberberg to complete the ice bucket challenge. If you haven’t heard of it (I would be surprised if you haven’t given its almost impossible to visit Facebook, Twitter or Instagram without a video popping up), it’s the latest viral social media campaign that involves people showering themselves in a bucket of ice cold water for a good cause and nominating friends to go next. It’s similar to the no-makeup selfies for the Cancer Awareness campaign, but much, much colder.
There are a few stories floating around of how the ice bucket challenge actually started. According to the Telegraph, it started in the US, when Boston College baseball player Pete Frates’ promising sporting career was cut short after he developed Motor Neurone Disease (MND), also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. He dared several Boston Red Sox players to throw a bucket of ice water over their heads to raise money and awareness for MND, or instead donate to another deserving charity. When several high-profile celebrities started taking part, soon enough, we were all joining in.
Irrespective of who actually started the craze, the amount of awareness and money it’s raised for charities is quite staggering. According to the BBC, before the ice bucket challenge the MND Association would receive an average of £200,000 a week in donations, but from 22nd to 29th August, it received £2.7million. In addition, Macmillan Cancer Support has raised £3million and Water Aid has also seen a spike in donations after people felt it was wasting water. The list goes on.
For these charities, the increased donations and raised awareness has all been thanks to the power of social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all played a pivotal role in encouraging people to take part in the ice bucket challenge and have, ultimately, driven its worldwide success. After all, if you can get Mark Zuckberberg to take part in your viral social media campaign, that is a pretty good accomplishment. These campaigns will always spark a bit of controversy – as mentioned previously with wasting water – but you cannot deny the great results it’s achieved so far. I’ve done mine, so those of you who are reading this and are lying low on social media to avoid a nomination, I nominate you!