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The $100 million answer & ice bucket challenge aftermath

September 4, 2014

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by Rick Roberts

"How has your summer been?"

This is a simple question that many of us get around this time of year and the response is usually “Fine, how was yours?” or “Been busy, you?” 

But what if you, as the Development Director for the ALS Association, were posed this question this year? I would venture to say that your answer would not simply be “Fine.”

The ALS Association, through the celebrated ice bucket challenge, has raised over $100 million this summer, which is a 3,233% increase over last year. Yes, that’s right – a 3,233% increase! Kudos to ALS! The more than one million nonprofits in the United States (all very worthwhile organizations) dream of having a summer like this and should applaud this amazing demonstration of generosity from over two million donors. 

However, there are some organizations and individuals who claim this isn’t an act of generosity but merely an opportunity for people to make a silly video on Facebook. They say any nonprofit would have received just as much money, if only they were the ones who marketed the idea. I say they are probably right. But I also say, who cares? From the widow who gave in memory of her husband who succumbed to ALS, to the non-philanthropic narcissist who gave five dollars, at the end of the day (or summer) we have $100 million earmarked for ALS research.

Who’s to say the selfie addict didn’t get more out of the challenge other than a cold head and quenched desire? Don’t judge. Be happy for ALS. Be pleased for this tremendous act of generosity. As the chief fundraiser for Texas Lutheran University, I would hope others would be happy for TLU if next year I was fortunate enough to answer the summer question with something other than “Fine, how was yours?”

Rick Roberts is the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at Texas Lutheran University. He oversees fundraising efforts, institutional advancement and alumni engagement. You can follow him on Twitter @RickRhymes.