Your Ice Bucket List

By Noah Graff

Bill Gates doing the Ice Bucket Challenge. Courtesy of

For those few people reading this who have been dwelling in a cave in Greenland all summer and still don’t know what the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is, I shall enlighten you. In July and August of 2014, inspired by similar fundraisers, some folks came up with the CRAZY idea that people should call out contacts on social networks asking them to give $100 to ALS research, or in lieu of the donation, pour a bucket of ice water on their heads. Variations evolved in which people post videos online pouring the bucket of ice on themselves and then still donate to ALS or a different cause if they prefer. Celebrities soon joined the HILARIOUS FUN including Oprah, Charlie Sheen, Bill Gates, and of course, Mark Zuckerberg. The Challenge has become “the thing to do” for people who want to feel part of something — better yet, part of a good cause. Hundreds of thousands are exhilarated by doing the same goofy stuff that the celebrities are doing. Oh, and people want to show off how funny and good they are to all their Facebook friends, and hopefully get “liked.”

Or, perhaps like me, when they were tagged they felt obligated to participate, despite feeling cheesy and too cool for such shenanigans. In any case, according to, during the month of August 2014, the ALS Association received $100 million, compared with $2.6 million during the same period in 2013. More than 3 million people have donated from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

I admit, I don’t give enough money to charity and hardly ever volunteer. Every year I say I will do more charitable things but I don’t. I’m generally inspired to give to a few causes every year, which is better than nothing. As I write this I’m thinking about those few causes that I have contributed to recently and I realize that they are usually ones where I am swept up in the hysteria of the masses. I almost always donate to NPR each year during their year-end drive, I donated to Philippines relief after the country’s typhoon, and I donated to Hurricane Sandy relief. I’m glad I did those things, but now it dawns on me that I was a follower. The Ice Bucket Challenge is this summer’s Hurricane Sandy and I again am a follower. Bottom line, I was challenged to dump a bucket of ice water on my head and give money to ALS research and I’d feel like a jerk not to participate.

I will admit that before my friend “challenged” me on Facebook for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, “ALS” was just another acronym for a horrible disease that I knew nothing about because I don’t think I have personally known anybody who has had it. I was literally getting it confused with MS and Osteoporosis. I didn’t even know that it was the infamous “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” But now I have talked to people whose friends and relatives have had ALS, and read a bit about it on Wikipedia, so at least I know something about the disease. But my bet is that the majority of Ice Bucket Challenge participants still don’t know what ALS is and that half of them have not gotten around to giving money to the cause after all the hoopla.

After I was called out for the challenge last week on Facebook, I saw a powerful video on Facebook of a woman graphically describing the symptoms of the disease. I posted it on my Facebook wall and received only two “likes” (one from my mom, and one from my friend who called me out for the challenge). When I posted the video I decided that if people paid attention to it then I would donate to ALS research but would be off the hook for pouring a bucket of ice water on myself. But because apparently nobody noticed this heartfelt and educational video, I’ve decided I will participate in this ridiculous, but I’ll admit, powerful viral promotion.

It is a pity that this contest was necessary to make me donate to this important cause, but it was. Now I will broadcast my participation and annoy four “friends” on Facebook to hopefully guilt trip one of them into donating to this good cause like me.

Question: Does it bother you when friends lean on you to do good deeds?

Click here to watch Noah accept the ice bucket challenge.

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7 thoughts on “Your Ice Bucket List

  1. Randy


    It does not bother me when friends as me to support a cause or do some other “good deed”. I believe in Biblical model of tithing and participate in support of a number of organizations outside my local church with additional gifts. We do this personally and as a factor of our business related income. In fact years ago when business income was more “loss” than income we decided to tie our giving to the amount of pounds of material we bought. So in profitable and not so lucrative years our giving is tied to business volume, not profits directly.

    In fact today as I write this a group we support called Children of the Nations is here loading up a couple of trucks of food for packaging events put on at local congregations for food packets they ship to Uganda and Malawi. We had extra space and sea containers that we cleared out so they could store the food & supplies during the year between events.

    What I have found is that for me there are way more requests than I can really give whole hearted support to and be involved more than just as a check writer. I’ve settled on four at this time and we do our best to be personally involved. All are faith based organizations, but for those requests for sponsorships of employees’ kids sport teams, of things like the bucket challenge we would participate, but as you note not really necessarily know anything about them significantly.

    Starting is half the challenge and I encourage you to find the one group you have a heart for and dig in beyond the check writing skills. It can and will change your life and focus as it stretches you to look beyond yourself.

  2. Dave Bradley

    I’d rather do a good deed and not get caught. Leave them wondering “who done that”. Even paying forward at the grocery or a restaurant is fun.

  3. Victor

    My wife and I give about $16,000 per year to our church and in 2011 we gave $45,000. We each volunteer there about 5-20 hours per week. This is an act of joy and love for us. The church does not solicit donations beyond passing the basket after the Sunday service. There is ZERO pressure to donate.

    I rarely, perhaps never, ask someone to make a charitable donation. It has to come from their heart. Just as I cannot be persuaded to make a charitable donation against my will, I would not try to persuade someone else to do that.

  4. Dave

    I have found an easy and painless way to donate to my favorite causes is to sign up for a smaller monthly donation automatically charged to my credit card. An unnoticeable donation every month equals a nice amount per year, and it is easy to keep track of for tax purposes.
    I feel very lucky to be where I am and enjoy supporting those who are not so fortunate or trying to build something worthwhile.

  5. brian madden

    What the Lord has to say about giving:
    Matthew 6: 1-4.
    “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose your reward in heaven, 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do – blowing trumpets in synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give in private, and your Father, who sees everything will reward you.
    Fair enough?


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