Using the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ As a Learning Tool For Charity Work on Social Media

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By Maggie Gallagher
SMW Student Reporter

This summer the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $90 million. This is truly a lightening-in-a-bottle situation that nonprofits will attempt to recreate throughout their campaigns. Anita Puri described why this was such a success at Networking with Purpose: How Organizations can Leverage Social Media for Social Impact.

According to Anita, donors enjoyed seeing the message spread nomination by nomination. They could watch as the cause reached others and the total number of donations increased.

Online interactions are instantaneous but as Andrew Swinand pointed out liking a charity’s Facebook page might give the user brief satisfaction but it is not a real donation. So one of the big questions tackled Monday was how nonprofits can use social platforms to expand their reach.

  • Have a strategy
    • Sarah Hutchinson stressed the importance of asking: What is the company’s outcome? Without a strategy and a question, how will you recognize a solution?
  • Push and Pull
    • Andrew encouraged companies to get out of the mindset, “If I’m posting on Facebook, it’s social media.” Real interactions can happen online. Ian Haisley called Facebook a donor help page. Use it to talk to your audience in real time.
  • Don’t focus on money
    • Move away from the idea that you have a problem and money can fix it. Sarah, a strong supporter of advocacy, said that it is not money that saves people, volunteers save people.
  • Know your platform
    • Andrew said it best: Know a few things well. Find a social platform that works for your demographic and rock it.
  • But….Take risks
    • Ian thinks there is a greater possibility of failure in not trying new social platforms. For example try using Snapchat to interact with a younger demographic. But to Andrew’s point, know when it’s not working and get out.
  • Show your impact
    • One of the biggest lessons to learn from the Ice Bucket Challenge: Use social to show your volunteers and donors their impact.

Andrew explained that story telling does not need to be costly or heavily produced. It can be as simple as a ten second clip of someone befitting from volunteer work or donations.

Anita made the comparison to the blog Human of New York, where so much can be said in one image. Ian used Charity Water as another example of great storyteller. This two minute clip is tangible proof and instant results that the donor is helping real people.

Know that you will never catch that lighting in a bottle. You can’t be the next Ice Bucket Challenge. Use other methods of story telling to show instant impact.


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