Latest posts by Jonathan Greenstein (see all)
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Last night I was nominated to partake in a one of several new viral campaigns, the #22pushupchallenge. It’s been all over social media recently but to those who haven’t heard of it, I’ll give a bit of background. Everyday 22 US veterans take their own lives due to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the U.K. figure are comparable. To raise awareness, the nominated have to record themselves doing 22 push-ups for 22 days while each day nominating a new person to start. The genius of it is that over time the campaign will snowball as the r-naught is 1:22. In epidemiology, an r-naught is the number of infectious cases one case can generate (sorry to use a term commonly associated with infectious diseases but we are talking about viral fund raising campaigns # pretentiouslyelaboratepun). So tomorrow I will begin my #22pushupchallenge by doing a bit or exercise and nominating someone. Now that we covered what the #22pushupchallenge is I’ll explain why I’m writing…
After closing Facebook once I read the notification, I got thinking- all the CEOs, Heads of marketing and Heads of digital for charities around the globe must have seen the #icebucketchallenge, #nomakeupself and the #22pushupchallenge and said, “We need an ice bucket challenge for our charity”. Now, like most of you I use social media everyday but if I’m being honest, I haven’t seen that many viral fund raising campaigns. Certainly not one for every charity. It got me thinking as, why?
This baffled me further when I read recently how successful the #icebucketchallenge was. According to the ALS association (ALSA), the viral campaign that grew to a break-the-internet level raised a bewildering $115 million (£88 million) in the US with other locations raising upwards of $13 million. So far, the ALS has stated that it has spent around $47 million (out of the $115 million) on 5 areas of research: gene discovery, disease model development, identification of biomarkers, clinical trials, and drug development. A further (approximately) 30% has been spent on patient and community services, education, fundraising, and processing fees. The fund raising lent a hand to the research that lead to the discover of the NEK1 gene variant ( go ahead and research it- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/NEK1)
Do these campaigns even raise awareness. I can image there are people out there that participated because they were swept up in a social craze and that they wouldn’t know that ALS stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or that it is otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. But participation is participation right?
In other viral fundraising examples, the public consciousness is exposed to an unexpected, emotive and shocking event. Examples of this would be Stephen Sutton’s campaign, the story of Karen Klein and the founding of the Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation and Claire Squires fundraising campaign for the Good Samaritans (Claire tragically passed away during the final mile of the London Marathon in 2012. She initially raise approximately £500. In the time after her death, public donations lifted this amount to about £940,000)
As Erika Racicot says in her article, “I believe witnessing “the unexpected” is ultimately what captures imaginations and compels people to support and share a cause with others.”* So, do viral fund raising campaigns actually work? From what I have found online: when they work, they work spectacularly but it takes a spectacle (social crazes included) to boost it.
Jeff Brooks said, “The secret to motivating people to act (donate) is to make it about them, not you.”** Making the campaign about the general public can mean making it fun but also making it emotive (i.e. make people feel something). It also helps having hyper connected people get behind your campaign as well.