ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos prove power of social media for awareness

Social media reaches wider audiences for charities

CLEVELAND - Senior Director for Community Engagement at the American Cancer Society Sarah Wells has been watching the success of the ALS Association receiving national attention through the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money and awareness going viral through social media. It's hard not to be impressed.

People dumping buckets of ice water over their heads after being challenged by others, then challenging others to carry on the effort, so far has raised $40 million for the organization. Tuesday events alone garnering $8.3 million for ALS this week.

Related: Why does the Ice Bucket Challenge work?

Social media-spread events' impact on creative methods to help charities reach donation goals a daunting new phenomenon replacing the much slower door-to-door method of fundraising employed by national organizations for decades.

"It creates an opportunity for organizations like ours in the American Cancer Society to really get information out there that's important for us to be able to find ways to communicate on the latest research that's happening, that really can impact the scope of what we are achieving in the fight against cancer. You know, the latest clinical trials information, or the latest news on prevention, and how and what we all can do in the way we're living our everyday life to prevent cancer," said Wells.

Related: Archdiocese of Cincinnati discourages ALS ice bucket challenge

Wells said that social media has opened doors to cut costs while still reaching an unprecedented amount of people interested in helping, or receiving health information.

"It creates that opportunity through social media to really get information out there that's so important for everyone to know. I think there will be new avenues beyond what Facebook and Twitter offer. I think there will be additional opportunities, but it's all about as an organization to continue to create that new look and make sure that you're following things and staying with the times. And keeping up with it, and creating opportunities to really keep it in front of people and make it fresh," said Wells.

Keeping the ALS challenge fresh, at the Market Garden Brewery Thursday, might be exactly what Wells alluded to later in the day. Before the lunch crowd descended on the restaurant and brewery on W.25th St., Market Garden's crews climbed the roof above the alley separating the West Side Market and the brewery's patio to pour ice cold beer from several pitchers onto the heads of their fellow workers and friends.

A little sticky, but a fresh take on the ice bucket challenge.

"We heard that the social media craze of everybody dumping ice water on each other taking over the last week hasn't resulted in everybody making donations. So, we decide to invite our staff out for this outing and invite staff from Market Garden Brewery, Bier Markt, and Nano Brew to instead of dumping ice water on people we dumped ice cold beer on people. We are going to be donating one dollar for every Hop Drive Session IPA sold from Thursday through Sunday. We're hashtagging it on twitter@dumpanddonate  and hopefully we get all sorts of other people in the brewery community involved. We were challenged by Great Lakes, so we challenged a few other breweries as well across the country, so hopefully they will participate as well," said Market Garden Brewery's Jeff Draeger.

CLICK HERE to donate to the ALS Association.

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