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Questions about the ice bucket challenge

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 Guidestar.org.  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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