7 challenges inspired by the Icebucket Challenge


Ice Bucket ChallengeUp until now, I’ve managed to avoid talking about the Icebucket Challenge. First, because I don’t have a personal Facebook page and thus have been spared videos of friends and celebrities pouring freezing cold water over their heads to raise awareness and funds for ALS.

Second, I’ve been very jealous at the humbling success of this viral campaign. Over 100 million raised?! Can you imagine what most nonprofits could do with $100,000,000? Five words: Unlimited. Breadsticks. During. Committee. Meetings.

Honestly, I’m not really sure how I feel about it all. On one hand, it’s inspiring that so many people—people of all races and classes, kids and adults, celebrities and the unwashed masses—are participating in addressing a terrible and incurable disease. It’s great that an important message is able to cut through the noises and get some needed attention.

Rob_Gronkowski_Shaved_Head_Video_Pictures_Kids_Cancer_Buzz_OffOn the other hand, we have so many important causes—cancer and malaria and homelessness and child abuse, etc.—and it seems we are always constantly having to try to be clever and top ourselves and each other to stand out. I’ve heard of fundraising events where donors are “kidnapped and held for ransom” until they and their friends cobble together enough money to donate to a charity. Or a campaign that includes staff shaving their heads when certain fundraising goals are accomplished. Or the “Reverse Raffle” where attendees to a gala get free raffle tickets for some embarrassing prize like having to dance like a chicken, and the attendees are then encouraged to donate money to the organization to get rid of their cursed raffle tickets so they don’t win the prize.

Some of these are very creative and even fun. But…I dunno…I wish people would just…donate money so we could do our work. Yeah. Just donate. No frills. No cleverness. No one getting held for a fake ransom. No one having to dance like a chicken or shave their heads. No one pouring ice water on themselves. We have homeless families and elderly veterans and trafficked children and starving villages in war-torn countries who need a hand. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone just quietly and without social-media fanfare donated money to help people and make the world better.

Well, while I’m daydreaming, I would also like ten pounds of dark chocolate and a unicorn. Actually, a pegacorn, which is a Pegasus-unicorn hybrid. That would be so awesome. I would eat the chocolate while riding my pegacorn, which I would name Tyrion, across a park, three feet off the ground (I have mild acrophobia).  

Until that happens, I guess we’ll have to continue to be clever to draw attentions to things our society often neglects. So, inspired by the Icebucket Challenge, here are some challenges for other important causes, which I hope will go viral:



The Sriracha Challenge: Swallow one heaping Chinese spoon full of Sriracha sauce, or donate $100 to help homeless veterans; roughly about 58,000 are homeless on any given night.





The Hipster challenge: Your friends dress you up like a hipster (goofy-looking glasses, weather-inappropriate scarf, skinny jeans, insane hat) and you must go out in public for 8 hours. Or donate $100 to help the 218 million kids who are currently involved in child labor, 22,000 of them dying from related accidents each year.




The Superman IV Challenge: Watch Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, arguably one of the most awful movies ever inflicted on mankind. Or, donate $100 to help end destruction of the rainforests. 36 football fields’ worth of it is lost every minute.




The “I’m Yours” Challenge: Record and post yourself singing one of the most irritating songs ever written—whose lyrics include the immortal lines “I’ve been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror…but my breath fogged up the glass, so I drew a new face and I laughed”—and then ask your friends to watch it ten times each or donate $100 to stop cruelty to animals 



The Brussels Sprouts Challenge: Eat 25 raw Brussels sprouts, or donate $100 to end childhood hunger, which every year kills at least 1 million kids worldwide.



criscoThe Crisco Challenge: Work one cup of Crisco shortening into your hair and work it into a curlycue like Calvin does in this comic strip. (If you don’t have hair, just rub Crisco into your scalp). Or donate $100 to fight malaria, which WHO estimated in 2012 killed 627,000 people, most of whom were African children.



The Special Events Challenge. Attend an annual event planning committee meeting for two hours, or donate $100 to end the abuse and neglect of elders. (Unfortunately, it’s challenging to get concise statistics since this is one of those problems that are underreported.)


All right, let’s start “nominating” each other! I would like to nominate Hillary Clinton for the Crisco Challenge.


  • Lorraine Thomas

    The inevitable email came from the ED of one of the other FH groups…trying to stir us all to think of something that would be like the Ice Bucket Challenge for our groups. I just didn’t respond. People don’t understand that the whole ‘viral’ thing is mostly luck. You can’t create a social media plan for going viral. It can’t be a strategy. And while I would certainly pay $100 to keep Crisco far, far from my hair, the larger point is that we non-profit types best not start thinking that campaigns like this are the way to go. Our work is hard enough without that.

    • Aw, Lorraine, stop splashing cold water on the icebucket challenge!

    • Lorraine, you are absolutely correct, it’s hard to create campaigns which focus on virality as the primary driver for success. However, what the icebucket challenge did was help the NPO sector understand the types of strategies required for effectively capturing the attention of a younger demographic whilst keeping them engaged long enough to complete a call to action.

      I completely understand and agree with you, fundraising in and of itself can (and is) extremely difficult. People today are are harder to reach and face multiple distractions from smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc. so capturing a person’s attention today is harder than ever. Moreover, younger demographics are consuming content on mobile devices at an ever-increasing rate. I believe hootsuite.com has coined the term “omniscreening” to describe this issue (exposure to multiple content types at any point in time), which effects any organization viewing for someone’s attention (especially regarding mobile).

      We’ve been researching this topic for almost a year now and believe that in order to effectively capture the younger demographics attention, NPO’s must devise campaigns that exhibit the following traits:

      – Hit fundamental psychological drivers with an approach that will “entice” someone to complete a call to action.

      – Campaigns must be channeled on a platform that people are constantly exposed to.

      – Project a fun, exciting and socially-engaging experience.

      – Completing the donation itself must be easy for people and is offered in a smooth, familiar way.

      – Ensures people that the appropriate security and compliance measures have been taken in order to negate any data risk.

      – The tools required must be affordable for an NPO’s budget.

      – Helps the NPO understand key metrics that are easy to understand and easy to make use of.

      Again, luck is a big component. However, I believe that an organization can create their own luck if they take the necessary steps that set them up for success. We’ve taken our research and, with much excitement, have yielded extremely positive results with respect to understanding and applying these steps for successful online fundraising. Send me an email at jsr@onegoodact.com and I’d be delighted to share our results with you.


  • Catherine Hayes

    I think this blog is interesting – just discovered it. But I’m reading it from newest post to oldest post and just read the one about the for profit world vs the non profit world and this kind of post is the why I think there’s a bad rap about the non profit world. I bet no one at Nike is whining about why people won’t just buy their shoes because their shoes are well made and shoes are a thing that people need. I get it, we have fundraising challenges that are difficult, but that’s what we do. That’s what humans everywhere all the time do. We meet and overcome the challenges specific to us because of life or choices or careers. And some of those challenges are harder than others and that blows so much, but it’s what we do.