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Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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Ice bucket challenge passes $100 million in donations in the US alone

That’s a bucket load of cash.

Image: Apexchange

IN THE COUPLE of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter’s call for comment, the group’s ubiquitous “ice bucket challenge” had brought in a few million more dollars.

Approaching $100 million, the viral fundraising campaign for the ailment better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease has put the ALS group into the top ranks for medical charity donations.

Since the end of July, the money has been sloshing in at a rate of about $9 million a week. Last year, from July 29 to Aug. 26, the group raised just $2.6 million.

It’s caught everyone off-guard, none more so than the ALS Association folks.

But they know this is likely a one-off phenomenon, and the group now faces the task of spending all that money wisely. Research, care and advocacy are the group’s three main missions — but officials say they don’t know yet exactly how they’ll use the astonishing windfall.

“I think even if I or any PR person at either a non-profit or a for-profit company had all of the PR dollars in the world to invest, no one would have come up with this idea,” says Carrie Munk, the association’s spokeswoman. “We realize there are responsibilities that come with being good stewards of these dollars.”

This campaign hasn’t exactly put the charity in the same neighborhood as giants like the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association or Susan G. Komen for the Cure — which raised $889 million, $529 million and $310 million last year, respectively. But it’s moving into the same ZIP code now.

“People who have been in this space for a long period of time feel like it’s a dream come true,” says Munk.

The American Institute of Philanthropy’s CharityWatch gave the group a B+ rating for spending about 73 percent of their cash budget on programs. Analyst Stephanie Kalivas has no reason to believe that rating will need to be downgraded.

“We will definitely be keeping an eye out for them,” she says. “Hopefully, they won’t be wasteful with it.”

Dr. Richard Bedlack, who runs the ALS clinic at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences in Durham, North Carolina, knows how he would allocate the money. While the temptation might be to plow it all into the search for a cure, he says the biggest strides have been made in patient care and quality of life, and that would be his No. 1 priority.

Read: Tesco have sold 66,000 bags of ice over the last two weeks

Read: Ice Bucket Challenge fund reaches €1 million mark in Ireland

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