Monday, 1 September 2014

Why are so many ‘charity’ people being so bah humbug about the #icebucketchallenge?

Why are so many ‘charity’ people being so bah humbug about the #icebucketchallenge? And yet, with #nomakeupselfie people were full of excitement.

I’ve held off blogging about the challenge as I didn’t want to jump on that particular bandwagon. But now I’m just getting annoyed.

Articles like this one in Civil Society – Why I Didn’t Accept an Ice Bucket Challenge. This one seems to be to have an element of giving snobbery attached to it. It’s ok to give, so long as I keep it to myself.

Why? If people want to shout about the fact that they’re giving to charity – albeit because of a social craze – how can that possibly be a bad thing? 

We talk endlessIy in this sector about how to engage the younger generation of givers. And then this one happens and we get grumpy about it. I’m really not sure why. It’s fun, it’s inclusive. And even children can take part.

This challenge has raised £millions, made people laugh, engaged them with giving and with charity. And it’s user-generated – what’s not to love? Is it because ‘we’ didn’t think of it? 

To be honest, there are thousands of people giving monthly via direct debit, popping change in collection tins and donating to emergency appeals.

And, ignoring direct debit giving, how are the two latter ways of giving any different to taking part in the latest social media fundraising craze?

A wiser woman than me once described emergency fundraising as ‘fund catching’ – catching the mood of the time as people respond to horrific events. Put the mechanisms out there and people will respond.

Popping money in a collection tin – is there a less engaging, more cold way to give to charity? No engagement, no thought – and, arguably, no warm glow. The #icebucketchallenge is giving that glow (ironically) to thousands of people. 

Did I think I would do it? No. Did I want to? No. Did I do it? Yes. And actually, it made me feel good. I felt part of a something. I gave money to charity. And I was able to nominate people and make them think about why and who they should give to.

Take part and understand why those audiences who are doing it are enjoying it. Don’t we always say we should understand our audiences more? You might even suprise yourself by enjoying it.
I don’t think anyone is suggesting that this user generated fundraising is going to replace more traditional methods of garnering support. But it’s happening more and more. And we need to embrace it, or be left behind.
So, please. Stop being grumpy. It’s very irritating.

Danielle Atkinson

And if you want to laugh at me, and other fundraisers taking part, here we are:


  1. Agree Danielle. Some of the negativity actually reminds me of the early days of social media when you had loads of people saying that Twitter etc would never be a fundraising or engagement tool. And then discovering that none of them actually had become engaged in tweeting other than to gloomily follow a few people and never actually jump in! And surely all Ice Bucket is is a tried & tested community fundraising technique (bath of baked beans? Hot coals?) updated to new channels & appealing to a new generation that love sharing & rightly or wrongly continues to be in thrall to celebrity endorsement. I think we should be delighted that there has been such a buzz and such a resounding appetite for giving.

  2. The impression I have got is that some of the moaners dislike what they perceive as the forced element, but to my mind, it's obvious you can choose whichever cause you want to or you can choose no cause at all. You do not have to take part if you don't want to, in the same way that you can walk past a tin collector, ignore a postcard through your door or refuse to open it for a door to door fundraiser.

    I appreciate a lot of people dislike being asked to give. As it is my job, I am glad they don't always ignore it, but I do also say as often as is necessary - it is up to you! Give if you want to, don't if you don't. Hopefully I provide more than enough reasons professionally for people to support the cause I work for. Non-professionally, I do not give to every cause that asks me, and I don't feel bad or guilty.

    The most fascinating line in the article was:

    "But as someone who spends a lot of time reading charity accounts I’m fully aware that donating to a charity I’d never really heard of without doing at least a little bit of research is irresponsible."

    A: How has someone who works in the sector media not heard of MNDA? B. If every donor read accounts (rather than all the other much more interesting and useful info) before giving, we'd have a very small sector. I love people who read accounts - I personally do, they are enlightening in some respects - but they don't really explain a charity's mission and they don't really help you decide whether it's worthy of your donation.

    I nominated my brother for the Ice Bucket Challenge after I 'refused' to do it: and I am relatively confident he won't do it, because he's that kinda guy! But that's ok. I did it because of the friend who nominated me and because it gave me a fleeting moment to raise awareness of three less well-known but often devastating conditions.

    What is wrong with that?