Someone challenges you to do the Ice Bucket Challenge, usually via video. You then must make a video within three days in which you dump a bucket of ice water on your head, or else you donate $100 to the ALS Association. You then call out three other people to continue the challenge.
In some versions of the Challenge, you still donate $10 to the ALS Association. I suspect a lot of people skip donating altogether, but it has still raised a lot of money for the organization very quickly.
While it's clear that the challenge works, because it's raising buckets of money for the ALS Association, I can't quite see it as a good thing. I think that when it comes to giving to other organizations, like cancer research or arts funding or environmental protect, a lot of people will think, "Oh, no, I already gave money to ALS when I did the ice bucket thing" and decline to donate. That is, this isn't raising new charity funds but siphoning funding from other organizations, equally worthy of attention. Is this the ALS Association's fault? Of course not. They've stumbled across a BRILLIANT marketing scheme. But I do think that in six months or a year, we'll see other groups suffering because their donations have dropped compared to previous years.
I also wonder how the ALS Association will manage the funds. We're talking millions of dollars that they did not anticipate when they set up their budgets, millions of dollars they were not prepared to receive. Will they be wise stewards for this once-in-a-lifetime windfall or will they blow it on something ridiculous, like CEO bonuses?
We can only wait and see.