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Top 6 Critiques Against the Ice Bucket Challenge and Why They Are Bogus

People are raging about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge like it’s a crime against humanity.

I’m debunking the top 6 reasons people are angry about the ice bucket challenge.  It’s bogus people.

Debunk #1 Slacktivism

Slacktivism is a political or social support for a cause that requires little time or involvement.  It is often associated with narcissism due to it’s association with social media culture.  Think the unending selphie’s the 16 year old in your feed posts on Facebook.

The major thrust of this critique is that we’re all just not being serious enough.  Charity is a grim business people.  Laughing and having fun isn’t allowed.  Nor is contributing a little.  We must all contribute lots, while not laughing.

There are lots of unpleasant things on this lovely little planet we call home.  Pairing fun with charity is not one of them.  Having fun for the greater good is as old as the hills.  You might say it’s the original trick in the fundraising book.  Ever been to a charity gala?  Bake sale perhaps?

Most charity fundraisers have nothing to do with the cause besides the fact that they bring a chunk of change to the non-profit clever enough to put it on.

Criticizing people because they aren’t doing enough to be considered ‘real activists’ is demotivating and detrimental to all causes.  We should support each other, slacktivists included.  Doing something is exponentially better than accomplishing nothing.

Besides, all those slacktivists just raised over $100 million.  That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Debunk #2 More People Die From Other Diseases, ALS Doesn’t Kill Enough People To Justify the Money

Thousands of people die every year from diseases because pharmaceutical companies don’t deem them worth investigating.  Why?  Because they won’t make a profit versus the cost of development.

ALS is one of those diseases.  600 people die every year from ALS in Canada.  More people die in hippo attacks every year than from ALS in Canada.  That doesn’t make their lives any less valuable, precious, or worthwhile than people dying from other diseases.

Who judges the worth of a life?  Who has the right to decide where others spend their money and whether it is worthwhile?  Not anyone I know.

Debunk #3 It Uses Water

This is a critique that I can get behind.  The world has a chronic shortage of fresh water.

Newsflash?  That’s old news.  Canadians are one of the world’s worst offenders.  We even beat out the US.

I’ve seen meme’s like the one below all over the internet.

no water

What would be more useful is sharing practical ways to conserve water.  For example, one sponge bath would more than makeup for the water used in a challenge bucket.  One evening of not watering your lawn, or better yet letting it go brown.  Or making a lifestyle change like hand washing dishes as opposed to using a dishwasher.

There are so many ways to make a positive impact on our water shortages.  None of the practical one’s are centered around stopping the ice bucket challenge.

Debunk #4 The Finite Donation Theory

This is definitely choosing to see the glass half empty.  The finite donation theory runs on the fact that people have limited incomes and therefore a limited amount of money to give to charity.

It’s true that 50% of the funds raised would have been potentially donated to another cause, but that’s still a whopping 50% increase in donations overall.  It means that with the right motivation we can motivate people to double what they’re willing to give.  In my opinion, people focused on this critique are focused on the wrong 50% of the equation.

Debunk # 5 There’s Not Enough Moola Going to Research

A common complaint is that only 27% of ALS funds raised are going to research.  This has sparked an uproar about the mismanagement of ALS funds.

Nobody should be upset about how the ALS foundation uses their money.  Their mission isn’t only to fund research.  They also support families and people living with ALS.  In fact they have been approved by many watch dog organizations and have the proof on their website.

A total 79% of all funds goes toward their mission.   That’s very impressive when you think that the remaining 21% of their budget pays for all their staff and fundraising efforts.

Debunk # 6 People Die From Dumping Ice on Their Heads

Ice bucket challengers have been getting hurt.  This has been from challengers making poor decisions such as using too much ice in the water, attempting the challenge in unsafe environments, and doing the challenge with known health conditions.

Common sense would have prevented most, if not all of the injuries.  Considering the vast number of people that have taken the challenge it isn’t surprising that a few got hurt.

Should we all stop participating in a good cause because some chose not to participate wisely?  Or because they suffered freak accidents?

I think not.

I went ahead and did the challenge anyway.

It was fun, I did it for my own reasons, and liked that my friends thought to include me.  I respect people who chose not to do it or donated quietly, and I know many were inspired to donate to other causes.  Check out the rice bucket challenge!  Whatever motivates us to act on behalf of our community is awesome 🙂

I challenge people to not be negative towards participants, but a positive force for change in the cause that they feel strongly about.

Finally, I believe that the ALS deserves a slow clap of appreciation for a brilliantly executed fundraising solution.  Bravo!


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  1. I think #4 is a good example of a logical fallacy. Just because one charity notes that 50% of a donation would have been made anyway doesn’t mean that the decision to donate an additional 50% to the campaign is taking 50% (or any, or maybe more) money away from another charity. They didn’t ask that question, they only asked about the donation to their charity. The person donating could be pulling more funds from other things, like deciding to put off buying the new iphone for another payday. In addition, the success of the ALS ice bucket challenge may not be pulling funds away from other charities, it could simply be reaching a wider audience who may not normally contribute to charity. Too many assumptions being made. I’m also betting the ratios being complained about are getting skewed big time when a campaign is as successful as this one. A poor twisting of statistics by critics to show an effect that can’t be shown by the data as not being from another potential cause.

    Great article! I love a well written source citing myth busting! I especially like your #5, not enough money going to research. It doesn’t matter where it’s going as long as it’s helping someone. What, is charity only charity if it helps in a specific way? Turns out, research is getting a boost anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Bucket_Challenge#cite_note-4