Sean Cushing, Director
Product and Vertical Marketing
Not every nonprofit organization can capture lightning in a bottle, but in the summer of 2014, the ALS Association (ALSA) did just that with their Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC). While there are different stories about the origins of the idea, it basically involves dumping ice water on your head or someone else’s head to raise money for charity. Individuals film themselves performing the activity, nominate others to take the challenge within 24 hours or make a donation, and share the footage on social media.
This was not just a gimmick. The IBC may be one of the powerful examples of the influence of social media over our behavior. In the year before the IBC, the ALSA received approximately $5 million in donations from July 25, 2013 to September 15, 2013. In 2014 during the same period, they received more than $114 million. When the IBC first went viral in late July 2013, the ALSA had 9,000 Twitter followers and 35,000 Facebook likes. Today the ALSA has 30,900 Twitter followers and 910,000 Facebook likes. (Note: Social media figures have updated from what is cited in the resource link.)
Clever copycat twist: An animal shelter came up with their own version of the IBC, calling it the Mice Bucket Challenge. Pet owners were encouraged to dump mouse-shaped toys over their feline companions or donate to their shelter. Not surprisingly, it didn’t generate the same results.
- First-time donors
- People likely to donate
- Corporate donors
- Previous high-level donors
- Influencers (like celebrities or local personalities)
9. Analyze Your Results
Your goals (step 6) should have specific metrics that can be measured and tracked. Those might include visitors to your website, traffic from online advertising, social media activity, attendance at events, total of volunteer hours, newsletter subscriptions, lead conversions, corporate partnerships, testimonials and fundraising.
10. Make Adjustments
Any good plan can be made better by applying real-world learnings and making modifications for improvement. What’s working? What isn’t working? Fine-tune your marketing plan by sharpening — or even replacing — a few tools in your toolkit if something isn’t generating the desired result: Connecting with your audience in meaningful, memorable ways.