Yesterday I wrote about the phenomenal success that the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought to the ALS Association.  They have raised $94.3 million vs. $2.7 million in the same period last year.  They have garnered 1.9 million new donors.  The Challenge is a social network and media sensation.  Whoo Hoo!

Or is it Boo Hoo?

Think of the challenges that the Association now faces.  To be sure, some of them are good, but my bet is that they are no where close to being prepared to handle this massive influx, especially when it occurred unexpectedly, and in a compressed time period.

How can a staff that was geared to handling 60,000 donors (the amount in the database that received the original email) cope with the volume of even thanking 1.8 million more people than usual?  How will they know which of the donors are their real supporters that should be targeted vs. who are the one-time $10 givers that were caught up in the moment?  

Time reports that “many people are questioning what the ALS Association will do with such an extraordinary influx of money.”  They cite new scientists being funded for research and increased interest in R & D by pharmaceutical companies — again, great news, but to make it a reality requires infrastructure, funding protocols and someone(s) to oversee the sheer logistics of making it happen.  

Due to the viral nature of this campaign, it is doubtful that ALS or even the Ice Bucket organizers ever fathomed anything of this magnitude.  No organization can truly be prepared for when something “gains legs” and becomes a sensation, but even if there was a plan, it would have never dreamed this big.

ALS has much work to do to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge that they have been given.  I can’t imagine the decisions that need to be made and the work that lies ahead.

Like many who win the lottery, the windfall can become a nightmare if not handled properly.  Let’s hope that the ALS Association can balance expediency with intentionality to be like Lou Gehrig and turn this fastball into a home run.

— beth triplett

Source:  The Real Ice Bucket Challenge by Kathy Giusti, Time, September 8-15, 2014, p. 29

Thanks to Mike for the observation.

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