Will Your Campaign be the Next Ice Bucket Challenge?

The Washington Post recently reported that scientists are crediting a breakthrough in research into the rare disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, to the funding collected through the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket challenge. As any PR professional or advocate who has ever tried to measure the success of a communications campaign knows, there is no higher praise than this.

Beyond the fundraising dollars and the extensive press coverage, this campaign was a monumental win for the association because much of that funding came from people who likely had never heard of ALS before the challenge was rolled out. By broadening the scope of the campaign to an easy, straightforward and rather hysterical challenge, the audience expanded along with it, and the fundraising dollars followed (by a whopping 4,100 percent increase than the year prior).

So, how can other organizations create a campaign that emulates such impressive success? Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

1 – Keep it simple: if a campaign requires too many steps, most people will not engage. Offer one interesting activity followed by the real “ask” and that’s it.

2 – Create a fun challenge: signing checks and writing letters isn’t fun, so most people won’t do it unless they are personally committed to the issue. Create an activity that appeals to a broader audience, like a social media challenge or running a 5K, before making the real “ask”.

3 – Make it shareable: if social media has taught us anything it is that people like to share pictures and videos. Instead of asking followers to share their support in 140 characters or less, consider a challenge for the best Vine video or pictures from a meeting with their Member of Congress.

4 – Support all followers: as engagement increases, keep the momentum going by thanking those who are taking action, leveraging the progress through local and national news and steering the conversation back to the main mission.

Of course, not every campaign will contribute to the development of a life-saving cure, but by reaching outside of your organization’s direct audience, there are greater chances of meeting and even surpassing your goals – whatever they may be.

What are some ways your organization is inspiring people to rally around your issue?