Without a doubt 2014 was the year of the pour a bucket of water over your head then nominate your friends to do the same challenge, or the ice bucket challenge as many like to call it. There is no doubt that it raised the profile for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in the USA and Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK. Indeed MND Association usually received around £200k a week in donations, when the challenge when viral between 22-29 August they received £2.7m and Water Aid saw a spike in donations including £47k in one day, so a pretty successful charity fundraising campaign.
But in 2015 is that the right way for charity fundraising to look for the next ‘pour a bucket of water over your head then nominate your friends to do the same challenge’? I think not and certainly research shows that charities would be better advised to spend time and money on using social media to raise the brand profile and longer term awareness for the cause. If you really wanted to find the next ‘pour a bucket of water over your head then nominate your friends to do the same challenge’ then you risk alienating older supporters by assuming only the young use social media and we can see this as many charites that are failing to keep up with trends that see more under 25s using Instagram and Snapchat, leaving the ‘traditional’ Facebook and Twitter.
There can be no doubt that the ‘pour a bucket of water over your head then nominate your friends to do the same challenge’ raised profile for the charites concerned and there can also be no doubt that the vast majority of charities will not experience a viral craze like this. Indeed if anything that has come out of this is that social media has the power to build a brand, raise awareness and reach new audiences that you previously wouldn’t be able to engage.
We have seen an explosive growth in the use of Social Media by charities, in the 20+ seminars we’ve run across the South West in the last 4 years the questions that started with how do I setup a twitter account (early 2011) are now more likely to be about facebook insights or social management platforms and there is no doubt that the results are overwhelmingly positive. We do still see a real confusion over where a charities audience is, what platform and how to the engage as well as the thought that social media is just the preserve of the young – it isnt!