Reflecting on the ice bucket challenge
I have been rather slow in writing my blog recently. So on the back of such a spectacular long weekend promoting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I am slowly finding space to reflect. So it’s time, metaphorically, to put pen to paper.
I did my ice bucket challenge about 10 days ago, and at the time it seemed like a fun campaign that was doing well in the states and just generating a little interest in the UK. I thought it would be a good fundraising opportunity, but I am sure few, myself included, expected it to be quite this big.
As each day has passed I have been thinking we are reaching our maximum acceleration, but each day the donations flood in at a faster and faster rate. I’ve also had a chance to hone my rusty TV and radio skills as the major broadcasters have picked up on the craze. As time goes on, I have to say I am quite enjoying the media work, and it’s even quite nice to have a bit of a tan courtesy of the TV makeup teams, in this rather disappointing August weather.
I keep getting asked by broadcasters, how will you engineer the next craze? Of course we will be asking ourselves exactly that question as we settle to learn lessons from the events of the last few weeks, but let’s maximise income and awareness first – this is not over yet!
My early reflections, however, are that we need to think about how we ensure we are best placed to generate income through social media. Our fundraising team and media team will be looking at that too, but from a volunteering perspective I am so impressed by the role played by supporters, friends and volunteers. I said on a tweet to one of our supporters early on in the craze that, our dedicated and tenacious volunteers will be our secret weapon, and that is so true!
With social media, you cannot fully control the messages or what catches on. The clue is in the word ‘social’. You cannot be social with a one-way or stilted dialogue. Social media needs a multi-directional and multi-party dialogue. It spreads through word of mouth. So our friends, volunteers and supporters have been crucial in keeping that dialogue spreading throughout the social communities. Hopefully, we will see that we have not just raised awareness, and money but gained some new supporters too. We have to capitalise on the wave of interest in us and use this to recruit new volunteers.
For me as the director responsible for volunteering, it underlines how important it is that we as an Association foster and support long term and more casual volunteers alike. We have added a new strategic mission to our strategy focussed on campaigning. This is where I think we need many new campaign volunteers. Some may be out there campaigning every day, but we also need an army of volunteers who are ready to be mobilised into action on events like the ice bucket challenge.
I want to say a huge thank you for all volunteers and supporters who have used people power to maximise our gains in this latest challenge. I also think we all need to think about what social media means for future volunteering success in the Association. We need to think not just about where we are now, but also about how we can be in the best place to capitalise on whatever follows the ice bucket challenge. I think with our wonderful networks of volunteers, we are in a strong position to build for future success, and can punch well above our financial weight by harnessing people power to raise more awareness and funds in the future.
Until then, keep the freezer well stocked.
Thank you all, for a fabulous few weeks.
26 August 2014