george bush

There’s been a lot of debate about the pros and cons of the ALS’s Ice Bucket Challenge as a fundraising tool. But one thing is clear: it’s working. As of this writing, the ALS has raised $94.6 million, compared to $2.6 million for the same period last year.

What is it about this phenomenon that has exponentially increased giving for this organization? One key factor: they are using the full power of video to engage donors and compel participation like never before.

What’s Changed?

Video has been used for decades to raise money. What’s different about the Ice Bucket Challenge?

The advent of social networks, mobile devices and video-capable bandwidth has made video as easy to create and share as an email or text message.  These videos are really “live” personal messages – more real and compelling than other means of communication short of being there.

Think about it: an Ice Bucket video has all the elements of a personal, face-to-face request that typically is needed to engage people more deeply and incite such giving levels – but on a global scale:

  • Each one is unique
  • Each one is personal
  • They are easily created
  • They are very short
  • They are unpredictable
  • They are authentic (EVERYONE  gasps as they are submerged, whether they want to or not)
  • They are democratizing, connecting people from all walks of life with a shared experience
  • They include a direct challenge to the next person in the chain

There’s no doubt that the rest of the philanthropic world has taken notice of the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Fundraising has been irreversibly changed.

Businesses Take Note

There’s a lesson here for business too. Think about just how easy it is now for anyone – from the top to the bottom of an organization – to incite action with a video.  Think how universal and unifying video communications can be.  Think about how many of your employees have a camera in their hand or on their desk at this very moment.

Take a lesson from your non-profit peers and make your organization better and faster with video as a strategic tool for communication.