Throwing Cold Water on the #IceBucketChallenge

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Local Green Bay radio and TV personality John Maino performs the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. (wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons)

The #IceBucketChallenge is going viral, and has raised impressive funds for ALS research. But some argue that it's an example of charity done the wrong way, without real awareness. We discuss what works and what doesn't with Ken Berger, President and CEO of Charity Navigator.

Comments [18]

Doris from Columbus, Ohio

I don't like the notion of "calling people out" to have a bucket of ice poured on them and to give a donation. At best, it's poor word choice; at worst, it implies someone is morally deficient if the choice is not to participate. And I hate acronyms generally, but I didn't see ANY posts until this morning about what ALS actually is. I think it is ignorant, misguided, and dangerous.

Aug. 21 2014 01:54 PM
NABNYC from SoCal

30,000 Americans have ALS, out of our total population of 330 Million. That's a tiny fraction. We could compare it, for example, to the 1.5 million Americans who suffer from Parkinsons, or the 1.2 million who suffer from HIV/Aids. I won't even go into diabetes, heart, and all the cancers which afflict so many of our neighbors. But I do wonder about a disease which affects a very small percentage of our population suddenly getting lots of charitable money because a clever fundraiser came up with a viral campaign. I wonder if the fundraisers get a percentage of what they raise? Instead of leaving it to clever fundraisers to come up with the latest fad, maybe we should simply fund research, care and treatment of diseases out of our national taxes, see it as a cost of being a compassionate society. Instead of leaving so many to struggle without care, without treatment, without hope, because "their" charity just isn't all that clever.

Aug. 20 2014 01:47 PM
neighbor from Pelham, NY from Pelham, NY

What people seem to forget is that this originated as a show of support for one of our neighbors, Anthony Senerchia, Jr. and his foundation. Although we are right next to New York City, we are a small town where everyone knows everyone else, and we care deeply about what happens to our fellow residents. This was an opportunity for our community to gather together and have some fun while raising money for a small, newly formed charity. The fact that it has gone viral is phenomenal, but it is icing on the cake. While the rest of the world is busy debating the merits of this type of fundraising, the waste of water, the narcissism, etc., our community is banding together to share our love for a native son and his hometown.

Aug. 20 2014 12:47 PM
debbie from manhattan

With all the horrific, and depressing events playing out in the world today, it seems sad that something so good in intent, would be so scrutinized for 'the wrong' in it. There are so few common causes that bring people together with good intent, laughter and at the same time raise a whole lot of money and awareness for a worthy cause. ,Why must the 'nay-sayers' be so compelled to find the negative in something with such good intention ? - The ALS Ice Bucket challenge is inspiring people across this country to connect, smile . . .(and raise a whole lot of money for a devastating disease ($+20 million as of today)). Wish we could just feel happy & inspired about something good in the world.

Aug. 20 2014 12:19 PM
Natasha from New Jersey

Sick of it! Don't think it helped raise awareness at all because most of the participants still can't even tell you what ALS stands for or what the ALS organization does. Most of the participants were participating in the challenge before they even knew why they were doing it and it saddens me that most of the participants dumped water on their heads without donating at all. I think this challenge was a clever way of advertising the ALS organization.

Aug. 20 2014 08:50 AM
Debbie from NJ from NJ

I completely agree with Caitlin. Why the negativity. The ALS association didn't plan this - it just went viral which was lucky for ALS. Why are people always looking for what didn't happen instead of reporting on something good that did happen, especially with all of the terrible things going on in our world right now.

Aug. 20 2014 08:34 AM
Maryellen Mealey from Chicago

Some of the comments have the challenge wrong.

You get the challenge you either pay $100 to the charity or dump a bucket of water over your head AND pay the charity $10.00

Most people I know have done the $100 and bucket.

the creativity has been fun to watch on some people's videos. It's great seeing the amount of money raised for ALS research. I knew a person with the disease, it might not happen to a lot of people, but those it does happen to, any steps taken for a cure is a good thing.

Aug. 20 2014 08:33 AM
Raissa from NY

I have no problem with this. I would like to do an ice bucket for the refugee children fleeing poverty and violence.

Aug. 20 2014 08:07 AM
Lydia Mann from NYC

Raising money by any non-profit is the goal that funds the others, typically awareness and research. Be clear that "awareness" includes providing knowledge about the topic, such as causes, symptom-recognition, prevention and treatment. There's not been a whole lot of that, in fact, I've not seen any associated with this campaign.

I trust they will use some of the millions this viral campaign has brought in to further their mission, as stated on their site (

"Established in 1985, The ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure."

Aug. 20 2014 07:38 AM
Caitlin from Astoria, NY

I have a sincere suggestion for an upcoming show topic - why do we knee jerk? The ALS ice bucket challenge has raised awareness for a horrific disease, raised a ton of money for a very good cause, and one can hope might spark widespread discussion of the NIH cuts that necessitate voluntary health orgs taking on the lion's share of the research funding burden.

So, why then, was the tone of this segment and the majority of the reporting on this topic framed as a defense? It seems that people are complaining the meme has taken over their news feeds, but where is the harm in displacing a few hundred cat videos? The guest mentioned the awareness efforts don't go far enough - is that reason enough to call this effort a failure?

I'm just honestly flabbergasted that with all of the sadness, fear, and tragedy that dominate daily news reporting, the opportunity to discuss this phenomenon as something positive was missed in favor of cynicism. There are a multitude of interesting and creative angles the BL show could have taken on this topic - how about the fact that this is spreading to a younger generation that is not known for their charitable giving? What about interviews with people who don't necessarily give but were compelled to do so for the ice bucket challenge? Or, why do we feel it's necessary to immediately knee jerk and complain, rather than celebrate a success and try to determine what lessons can be taken?

And yes, I poured water over my head and donated.

Aug. 19 2014 12:35 PM
Amy from Manhattan

sophia, that's the point. The campaign is raising funds for research into how to prevent &/or treat it.

Aug. 19 2014 12:34 PM

Why do people need "awareness"? It's a fairly rare disease, which isn't as far as I know, preventable.

Aug. 19 2014 11:56 AM

Why are people cranky about this. ALS has gotten 15 million dollars, you don't have to watch.

Aug. 19 2014 11:53 AM
Anonymous from Park Slope

Blind followers...the idea is also to CHANGE charities along the way!! ughh humans!

Aug. 19 2014 11:52 AM
Barb from NYC

Host "You've seen the videos" -- no, sorry, I haven't. Nor do I care; this seems stupid.

If I have a charity I want to donate to, I donate. If there is a cause I care about, I get involved and donate. But if someone dared me to throw a bucket of ice over myself or have to donate, I'd tell them to go fk themselves.

Aug. 19 2014 11:50 AM
Georgina from ann arbor

From what I understand, you either give $100 to ALS or tip a bucket of ice over yourself. Surely ALS research will benefit more from $100 than the alternative.

Aug. 19 2014 11:46 AM

Noooooooo... I told my Facebook friends I was going "dark" for a month to get away from this narcissistic nonsense and now it's come to the Brian Lehrer Show! Do I have to move to the forests of Vermont to escape this silliness?

Aug. 19 2014 10:43 AM

The Ice Bucket Challenge is an idiotic activity and the MSM needs to stop covering it.

Aug. 19 2014 10:12 AM

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