Health News Review

From Cincinnati Enquirer story

A story in the Cincinnati Enquirer, “Ice bucket challenge? Here’s where  your money goes,” is worth a look.

It doesn’t make any statement about what’s right or wrong or good or bad about the campaign.  It simply states facts, based on what the reporter found on  Excerpts:

“The (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – ALS) association pays its management $1.7 million in annual salaries, including $319,000 in total compensation for its president.

The association keeps $6.7 million in investments.

The association spent $2.4 million with three companies for professional fundraising costs in 2013.

The association spent $1.2 million for travel.

The association spent $3.2 million since 2009 to lobby legislators to “sensitize them to the plight of ALS” sufferers.

The association paid out $6.6 million in grants for research and clinical trials to attempt to cure the disease.”

A blogger who goes by Duncan Cross (he says Duncan is his real name but Cross is not), wrote,Don’t Ice Bucket.“  He explains that he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in high school, and since has “become more interested in the social aspects of illness, and how sick people find meaning in their lives.” His main point: “about the problem with disease charities, that they put research ahead of the real needs of people living with the disease on a day-to-day basis.”

A Boston Globe columnist wrote,Ice Bucket Challenge a gimmick best not repeated.” Tom Keane writes that the campaign “adds a new and troubling twist. Charities have always been comfortable using guilt as a motivator — children and puppies in danger seem to work especially well. But the challenge crosses a line. Those issuing challenges are not only telling others what cause to support but also saying that if they don’t, they must suffer a penalty. Threats to compel giving? It seems the opposite of what it really means to be charitable.”

Any time something goes so wildly viral so quickly, I think it’s worthwhile to step back and assess – “Where did this come from, how did it happen, and where is it going?”  That’s how important questions were raised about the Susan G. Komen Foundation “Race for the Cure” and other campaigns.

So please don’t write to me as if I’m anti-ALS fundraising. I’m not.  I think these writers raise some interesting perspectives that haven’t received a lot of media attention.  Period.


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Rob Lamberts posted on August 25, 2014 at 1:56 pm

While I agree with the basic idea (to not jump without showing caution), I would definitely be careful with criticizing salaries of CEO’s of nonprofits. If they are going to get the “best and brightest” to help them run the nonprofit in the best way possible, they have to give a salary that would attract such people. I definitely think these organizations need to be accountable for their spending, we shouldn’t expect that they are not run as a for-profit company would be run. Here’s a TED talk that addresses this specifically:

    Gary Schwitzer posted on August 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm


    Thanks for your note.

    I didn’t read the Cincy story as criticizing.

    Just factual.

liz posted on August 26, 2014 at 3:46 am

I always wonder about that: why do people who run charities have to make over $300.000 a year? I just don’t think this whole “best and brightest” thing flies: we let people teach our kids on minimum wage, we let people who earn less than $300.000 operate on our brains. I should hope those are the best and the brightest and they’re not motivated by money (alone). money shouldn’t be an indicator of exactly how “bright” you are.