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Giving Compass' Take:
• Stanford Social Innovation Review examines lessons learned from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge about the power of collaboration — how rallying around a single, landmark event can help organizations overcome bureaucratic obstacles.
• No matter what sector of the nonprofit world you operate in, the success of the IBC should signal that there is a tremendous power in collective impact, that bringing people together to solve problems often yields big results.
In the summer of 2014, millions of people around the world dumped buckets of ice on their heads to raise awareness and funds for ALS Association — a nonprofit operating throughout the United States to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
It was an unprecedented campaign — the Association received $115 million in just six weeks and acquired 2.5 million new donors, mostly millennials. At least $100 million more was raised for other ALS organizations around the world.
But the Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC) was also probably the most important moment in the history of fighting ALS since Lou Gehrig (the baseball player whose popularity gave the disease its common name) made his farewell speech more than 75 years ago. Why? Because it presented leaders, staff members, and other stakeholders in this fight with what I call a “good crisis.” First, we had to figure out how best to allocate all that money — and as those in the nonprofit world will attest, this is not nearly as easy as it may sound. Second, we had to decide what the IBC would ultimately mean for us.
Prior to the IBC, within our organization, there was a lot of distrust between the national office and the chapters, and among chapters, themselves (we are a federated organization, with 39 chapters serving all 50 states). But the wild success of the challenge gave us a platform to enter into new, forward-looking discussions about the potential of working together — really working together. It showed us a new path forward — a new and powerful way to tell our organization’s story, and a compelling reason to work to build trust internally.
I urge other nonprofit organizations to seek out collaborative opportunities in advance of the triggers of major events — good or bad. Collaboration is really the only way we can solve the challenges that face us.
Read the full article about what we learned from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by Barbara Newhouse at Stanford Social Innovation Review.