The Strategic Retreat

Refusal of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I’m happy ALS charities are receiving a boost but they aren’t in my top 100 list of charitable causes. I’m all for curing diseases but diseases that take massive amounts of cash -if they will ever be cured at all- fall lower on my charity spectrum than ‘save this kid from dying right now, with far less money’.

My grandfather died of ALS so it’s not as if it’s not a concern nor is it something distant from me. That doesn’t change the fact that there are much more cost effective ways of doing good in the world.

I also refuse to donate based on bullying or arm twisting. On the other hand, I don’t want to be a dick about it. That’s why I refused the challenge but did so publicly and with a task more difficult than an ice bucket “challenge”.

The marketing behind the ALS ice bucket challenge was great. It was viral, manipulative, put the onus of distribution on others… It did everything that a great viral marketing campaign should do. I just wish it was for a cause where “raising awareness”, in and of itself, would be beneficial; like convincing people to become organ donors.

It’s hard for me to criticize a marketing campaign that was successful in raising money for a condition I’m predisposed for, so I won’t. But I will say, there are thousands of better charities out there and an even greater number of ways to better spend your time and energy. Dumping water over your head is substitution, not a challenge.

About Jeff Penman

Jeff is a classically underemployed philosopher and MBA student, Singapore trivia champion, seeker of happiness, truth and the perfect sandwich. He once survived for 4 months in a lean-to on the side of college housing with only a fishing license.