By now, you’ve probably heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In the video on the left, L2 Founder Scott Galloway explains why it became such a viral hit. First of all, the timing was right. The impact of ALS is widespread enough that almost everybody knows or has known someone affected by the disease. Yet, it is unknown enough to warrant more attention. In other words, the time had come for more discussion about the debilitating disease.
Celebrity participation from Bill Gates and Donatella Versace also helped jumpstart the campaign. And the structure of the challenge – what Galloway calls a modern-day version of the pyramid scheme of the 70’s –helped the Ice Bucket Challenge grow exponentially. But perhaps more importantly, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge appeals to everyone’s inner narcissist. It provides an opportunity for humblebrag; participants can upload videos of them and advertise their philanthropy.
But what is ALS? Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that impacts muscles that control movements from kicking to swallowing a drink. As the nerves stop relaying messages to body parts, patients experience difficulty eating, drinking and speaking. Paralysis often occurs in the late stages, but brain remains alert throughout. Most patients live 39 months after onset, with just 4% making it beyond 10 years. Five thousand cases are diagnosed each year, and no cure has been discovered. Causes for 90% of non-genetic cases are unknown.
The Ice Bucket Challenge has lead to more than $100,000,000 in donations. That’s more than quadruple what the campaign raised in 2013.