Charities Targeting Friends and Followers to Build on Ice Bucket Challenge

Every charity in the U.S. is likely wishing they’d thought of the Ice Bucket Challenge.  This fundraising event benefited the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Society. As people across the U.S. posted videos of themselves dumping a bucket of ice water on themselves or friends, they were also making donations. The success of this event shows the power of appealing to charity friends and followers on social networks.

It’s not easy to raise money as a nonprofit organization these days. The traditional method of direct mail is yielding fewer results as consumers spend more time online. While the Internet can be a great equalizer, a small charity’s presence can be overshadowed by large competitors. For example, the ALS organization has historically relied on between 20,000 and 30,000 people to give money for research into this relatively rare but devastating disease.

A Wall Street Journal article reports that the ALS organization usually counted on donations between January and August to total $1.8 million. In 2014, that number zoomed to over $15 million. The secret behind their success was a unique fundraising strategy that took place at just the right time, giving it a viral edge. The organization started by sending out emails on the topic of the ice bucket challenge. Before long, supporters were sharing videos of themselves taking the challenge with their social media contacts. In the end, celebrities like Bill Gates and Ben Stiller were taking the challenge and making donations.  Experts say the uniqueness of the challenge and the timing – in the summer — fueled interest and tapped into people’s willingness to give.

As charity fundraisers brainstorm for other great ways to raise money, they need to work on building their base of friends and followers on their social sites. Currently, about 27% of U.S. adults have ‘friended’ a cause on Facebook.AudienceSCAN data shows that 83% of these audience members are under age 45. These are the supporters that charities will have to count on for donations in the next few years. While these consumers aren’t necessarily passionate about buying from a local store, they will support an enterprise which is associated with a charity or cause they believe in. 38% of these audience members strongly agree that they’d switch stores for a cause or charity. That’s 79% higher than for adults in general. These consumers may also be online more than average. About 21% will be looking for new high-​speed Internet access in the next year, which is 110% higher than average.

Marketers can connect with these consumers online. 49% have taken action in the last 30 days as a result of an ad they saw on social networks.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.