You Have 24 Hours - Gamify Awareness Like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
by Sean Burns
If you’ve been on any social platform within the last few months, I’m sure you’ve seen a friend, family member or any number of celebrities make videos of themselves dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads, and then challenging a others to do the same. Oh, and each challenge carries a time limit of 24 hours.
How did this all start?
In the winter of 2013, there was a campaign circulating socially called the “Cold Water Challenge” where people would dump ice cold buckets of water on their heads or jump into a freezing pool of water, and then donate to a charity of their choice. In July, golfer Chris Kennedy did the ice-bucket challenge and challenged his cousin Jeanette Senerchia whose husband, Anthony, has had ALS for 11 years. A day later she did the challenge while her 6-year-old daughter filmed her.
The rest is history.
Since then, the virality of the Ice Bucket Challenge has been undeniably successful: More than 1.2 million videos shared on Facebook in the last few months and over $13 million in donations since July 29, compared to the $1.7 million raised in the same time span last year. And all to raise awareness for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
So what can other non profits learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?
1) It All Starts with a Challenge
Who doesn’t like a good ol’ fashioned challenge. When it comes to engaging with a community, seeking donations or simply raising awareness, the common “donate for a good cause” spiel doesn’t work. You need to present something catchy and something with a challenge. People want to feel actively engaged and not just passively giving. It isn't just enough to ask people to give, but it is now easier than ever to get them involved through digital, which makes the act of participation much more transparent and exciting. The second aspect of this is connecting people around a common experience. The fact that my grandmother and dog both got nominated goes to show how the world is coming together to not only raise awareness for ALS, but participate as a massive community.
2) Make it Go Viral
Check out this awesome piece from Inc.com that features eight game-changing marketing lessons from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Virality lies in a combination of three major things: open participation, simplicity and social currency. By creating a challenge that anyone can participate in, including your dog, is key. From there, the rules need to be clear - you dump a bucket of ice water on your head, challenge others and make sure you let them know they have 24 hours. Lastly it needs to be just the right kind of content to pick up social steam. And the fact that it’s summer time and people don’t mind the cold water helps too.
3) Make Sure Your Donation Site Can Handle the Traffic
Sites like the Grammys and Emmys know that twice a year they get one night of massive traffic that they need to scale to. Nonprofits on the other hand, have no idea when an “Ice Bucket-like Challenge” will go viral. Can your site handle the traffic? Will your donations platform be able to scale with the influx of donations made as a result? Is your site responsive? Responsive design actually led to a 34% mobile traffic boost for United Way and a 28% increase in online donations.
These are all questions you need to ask yourself in order to deliver an exceptional digital experience and minimize abandonment rates. Drupal is especially good at this.
Check out some of the work we’ve done with nonprofits to learn more.
When something as successful as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge comes knocking on your doorstep, answer the call with a bucket of ice water.
Oh and if you haven’t been challenged yet here it is, from me to you. You have 24 hours.