Consider the Success of the ALS’s “Ice Bucket Challenge”

The ALS Association reported that it raised more than $100 million during a 30-day period, largely as a result of its summer “Ice Bucket Challenge.” According to the nonprofit’s website, it received $100.9 million in donations from July 29 to Aug. 29 — quite a contrast to the $2.8 million in donations it received during the same period in 2013.

The nonprofit said that more than 3 million donors participated in the fundraising event in which celebrities ranging from Bill Gates and Bill Clinton to Oprah Winfrey and Charlie Sheen had a bucket of ice dumped on their heads while challenging video viewers to contribute to the ALS cause. The bulk of donations came in via mobile phones with donors using the hashtag #IceBucketChallenge.

The successful campaign underscores the value of using the “new media” in fundraising. It also raises the question of how to sustain new donor interest after a tremendous influx.

Suggestions for donor retention include: thanking donors profusely and keeping the public informed of how money is being spent, developing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program that identifies the best ways to connect with donors in the future, and continuing to use the influence of the celebrities who helped make the campaign a success.