A Cool, Make That Cold, $2.4 Million For ALS

August 13, 2014       Mark Hrywna      

The Ice Bucket Challenge is heating up the doldrums of summer fundraising for the ALS Association, which has raked in some $4 million in donations this month on a wave of news coverage and social media. ALS, which stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, may be more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The Ice Bucket Challenge isn’t new but has gone viral this past week as people take the challenge, post their video to social media (#IceBucketChallenge) and challenge others to do the same, or donate to ALS. Some people accept the challenge and donate to ALS too.

The viral campaign picked up steam Monday night with coverage on newscasts of three major networks, along with Good Morning America and the Today Show.

ALS spokeswoman Carrie Munk said the challenge is not new but credited 29-year-old Pete Frates with inspiring the recent ALS-related campaign after posting on social media on July 31. Frates, a former Boston College baseball team captain, was diagnosed with the disease in 2009 and has been working with the charity for a number of years, she said.

ESPN anchor Steve Levy accepted the challenge by Boston College football coach Steve Addazio and posted his 50-second video to Twitter on Aug. 7. Others cited golfer Rickie Fowler and motocross racer Jeremy McGrath as early adopts of the campaign. Wherever it started, it’s been a boon to ALS Association.

Since July 29 through Monday (Aug. 12), the national office and its 38 chapters nationwide have seen revenues of $4 million in donations from 70,000 new donors, according to ALS spokeswoman Carrie Munk. That compares with $1.1 million for the same period last year, she said. UPDATE: ALS Association has updated fundraising figures as of Wednesday morning, now at almost $5.7 million from more than 100,000 new donors.

“We started hearing about it more early last week and it’s grown every day so far,” Munk said. As of Friday, the national office had reported donations of about $300,000, which grew to $1.35 million by Monday and another $1 million overnight into Tuesday, totaling almost $2.4 million.

The ALS Association’s national office in Washington, D.C., reported total revenue last year of $24 million with expenses of $21 million, according to tax forms for the year ending January 31.

The challenge has been around and Munk has seen some instances where people have selected other charities not related to ALS, such as Today’s Matt Lauer making a donation to Hospice of Palm Beach County.

“It started so organically… People really responded to that. Second, it’s just a fun, easy thing to do, to feel good about,” Munk said. “It is pretty amazing how much it’s taken off,” she said.

Munk said there is no fundraising goal for the challenge. “We’re just so incredibly grateful for the donations that have come in. It will eventually lose steam and we’re thrilled that it’s energized” people around the country.