Life is full of challenges. Some are profoundly life-changing, and some are cold and wet. The ice-bucket challenge was not only great summer fun, it was also one of the most positive and productive viral campaigns in history. That we as a popular culture are supporting life-saving research online rather than simply watching animal videos or making dance parodies is quite encouraging. As far as challenges go, however, the question is whether this ice-bucket business was as character-building as other challenges we've all encountered.
Yes, it was fun to watch all of our friends douse themselves, and it was exciting to watch the donation numbers climb and feel that we were a part of something inspiring and unprecedented. But then what? Did it create in us a new philanthropic tendency? Or did it simply speak to the power of the crowd and the mentality of the herd?
One of the keys, perhaps, to the ice-bucket campaign's success was the simplicity of both its transmission and its messaging. Though the vast majority of donors had neither given to ALS causes before, nor did they know anyone effected by the disease, they were not forced to choose or consider deeply. Caught up in the magic of the moment, we were swept along without much effort or resistance.
The true challenge is where do we go from here? Now that we've witnessed this incredible potential for cause-consciousness and mass communal engagement, do we let this moment pass as another fleeting trend, or do we seize this remarkable opportunity and build on this momentum to promote further giving?
Online charitable opportunities abound -- from traditional non-profit sites to charitable shopping platforms like We-Care.com or entertainment sites like eflixir.com that donate a portion of every purchase to great causes. Is the question now how to make giving easy and trendy, or how to engage people more deeply in the issue of causes in general?
Now that everyone has taken the ice-bucket challenge, the following "Beyond the Ice-Bucket" video proposes something a little different. While ALS is a worthy cause, the question now is 'What is YOUR cause?!' What do you give yourself to when nobody challenges you to do so? Is this challenge too demanding? Are we ready to actually dive in, or will we go only as far as simply pouring a bucket on our heads?