Does ice make a cause hot? 冰能讓慈善活動火起來嗎?


Image caption Have you done the ice bucket challenge?

Vocabulary: charity 詞匯: 慈善

It might be difficult to find anyone who hasn't seen one of these ice bucket challenge videos or pictures. And every day there's a new one with a celebrity in it. Justin Bieber's video got more than one million 'likes'. Former US President George W Bush took part in one and so did actor Tom Cruise, internet billionaires, footballers and my neighbour Sophie. But has it achieved anything?

The challenge's objective was fundraising and bringing awareness to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association in the US. The figures say it did. During the month of August, when the campaign was in full swing, ALS received over $98m – a big jump compared to the $2.7m donated during the same period last year.

Other charities have benefitted from it too, including the UK's Water Aid. It seems to have got money from some people who thought the ice bucket challenge was a waste of precious liquid.

But the initiative has its critics. Shannon Murray, a British writer who campaigns for disability rights says: "It's been very celebrity-orientated and it plays into our culture of putting everything about ourselves out there on social media. Some people have obviously done it to raise their profile and that's up to them. Personally it makes me a bit uncomfortable."

Veteran BBC radio presenter John Humphrys isn't happy either. "I have mixed feelings about persuading people to support a charity with stunts," he says. Humphrys believes charity should be about giving because it's a worthwhile cause that we want to help.

The ice bucket challenge isn't the first initiative to get benefactors through social media. In March, Cancer Research UK raised millions when women posted pictures of themselves online wearing no makeup while donating to charity.

The days of just relying on people's goodwill and social conscience might be over. As Humphreys puts it: "Charity has become big business, and fundraising is all about clever marketing. Pity they can't let the cause speak for itself."