It was pretty incredible, wasn’t it? Over 2,330,000 videos popped up on the web of people dumping buckets of ice over their heads. (I still can’t believe that!) 28M people joined the conversation about Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and ALS raised about $85 million in less than a month.
Understandably, achieving this kind of success is on every non-profit board member’s mind. So what do you say when your board asks you to create a campaign like the ALS #IceBucketChallenge?
You can’t replicate…but wait. When something goes viral, it’s organic—the whole point of “viral” is that it can’t be replicated. But don’t be discouraged! There are some things you can do as a non-profit to engage with social media in the way ALS did, and set yourself up for similar success as best you can.
Invest more in social media as a fundraising platform. Social media is not just a place to spread awareness or expand your supporter base—it can actually result in direct fundraising. Talk with your board about your marketing budget and how putting more resources into social media will not only reach new supporters, but can actually inspire them to direct action and giving.
Change your attitude. Part of what made the #IceBucketChallenge so successful was its attitude: the campaign was silly and playful, and that was what made it magical (and “viral”)! People wanted to make funny videos, and people wanted to see their friends do it, too. It’s the same element that makes people share cat pictures.
Call out individuals. Another element that made the #IceBucketChallenge so successful was that people were talking directly to their peers about it and saying, “Try this. I dare you!” This was an opportunity only possible because of social media (and, even more specifically, with the ability to tag specific people in your video when you posted it), which ALS fully embraced.
Open up to new ideas about fundraising. Dumping an ice bucket over your head doesn’t have a lot to do with fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but it was certainly something no one else had tried before. The #IceBucketChallenge campaign’s approach was incredibly novel, which is a lot harder to replicate than silly and playful.
It’s possible with the right team. Getting people involved who can think in creative, new ways is key to creating your own #IceBucketChallenge. Let people in who “get” social media. And don’t be afraid of trying new things.
Be both realistic and optimistic with your board about replicating ALS’s success. These are all ideas that have existed before, but the #IceBucketChallenge proved that it could work—and it can work for you!