Ice Bucket Challenge success impressive, but hard to repeat, experts say

Ice Bucket Challenge success impressive, but hard to repeat, experts say

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"Part of it likely is because it was started by individuals and not by an organization, and that made it that much more authentic feeling," said Rick Cohen, director of communications for the National Council of Nonprofits.


"It's difficult to catch lightning in a bottle once. To get the same lightning to strike twice, I think it's something that can be successful but not to the same degree that it was last year," Cohen said

"A nonprofit that's tasking somebody with creating the next ice bucket challenge is probably setting themselves up for a disappointment," Cohen said.


One of the criticisms hurled at the Ice Bucket Challenge last year was that it cannibalized funds that people otherwise would have donated to other causes. Cohen, of the National Council of Nonprofits, said that effect is difficult to measure, but "it is the reality that there are a finite amount of dollars to be donated in any given year."

He said the success of the challenge underlines the importance of cultivating and engaging with donors and demonstrating the impact their funds are having. The internet increases competition for people's charitable contributions, and nonprofits need to be able to articulate their mission and their importance in order to earn and keep donors.

Aiming to go viral and ride a social media wave to millions of dollars in donations would be the wrong way to approach it, though.

"It's something that's very difficult to do. It's something that in many cases takes more luck than planning," Cohen said.

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