The Ice Bucket Challenge Movement
In last week’s blog, I discussed the characteristics of movements. One person, a “lone nut,” typically initiates movements. It is the subsequent followers, who are embraced as equals, who really lend power to the movement.
If you have not yet watched the referenced TED Talk on movements, take a look.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a movement the likes of which are rarely seen. I had the opportunity to hear about this from the inside over dinner last week with Lance Slaughter, chief chapter relations and development officer of the ALS Association. Together with Otis Fulton, Turnkey’s resident psychologist, we explored the idea of movements in the context of the Ice Bucket Challenge. What we found out was that the Ice Bucket Challenge met all the criteria of successful movements that Derek Silvers describes in his Ted Talk.
The Ice Bucket Challenge was started by one person—a family member of someone with ALS. That family member called out to and embraced others through the nomination process online. The important thing that the ALS Association did was to embrace the followers by celebrating them.
Lance, who has been with the ALS Association since 2007, said, “ALS Association’s role is to amplify the ALS community’s voice to acquire the concern, participation and support to the ALS cause from the other 290 million people who did not get challenged.” In short, the ALS Association celebrated the participants, facilitated their activity and got out of the way.
The Ice Bucket Challenge, according to Lance, lifted spirits and hopes and recaptured the imagination. He said, “Biggest impact of IBC? IBC can’t be undone. That so many people know about the ALS [Association] via the Ice Bucket Challenge can’t be undone.”
Otis Fulton, Ph.D., spent most of his career in the education industry, working at the psychometric research and development firm MetaMetrics Inc., Pearson Education and others. Since 2013, he has focused on the nonprofit sector, applying psychology to fundraising and donor behavior at Turnkey. He is the co-author of the 2017 book, ”Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising” and is a frequent speaker at national nonprofit conferences. With Katrina VanHuss, he co-authors a blog at NonProfit PRO, “Peeling the Onion,” on the intersection of psychology and philanthropy.
Otis is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit fundraising messages. He has written campaigns for UNICEF, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen, the USO and dozens of other organizations. He has a Ph.D. in social psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, where he also played on UVA’s first ACC champion basketball team.
Katrina VanHuss has helped national nonprofits raise funds and friends since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Her client’s successes and her dedication to research have made her a sought-after speaker, presenting at national conferences for Blackbaud, Peer to Peer Professional Forum, Nonprofit PRO, The Need Help Foundation and her clients’ national meetings. The firm’s work is underpinned by the study and application of behavioral economics and social psychology. Turnkey provides project engagements, coaching, counsel and staffing to nonprofits seeking to improve revenue or create new revenue. Her work extends into organizational alignment efforts and executive coaching.
Katrina also regularly shares her wit and business experiences on her and Otis Fulton's NonProfit PRO blog “Peeling the Onion.” When not writing or researching, Katrina likes to make things — furniture from reclaimed wood, new gardens, food with no recipe. Katrina’s favorite Saturday is spent cleaning out the garage, mowing the grass, making something new, all while listening to loud music by now-deceased black women, throwing in a few sets on the weight bench off and on, then collapsing on the couch with her husband Otis to gang-watch new Netflix series whilst drinking sauvignon blanc.
Katrina grew up on a Virginia beef cattle and tobacco farm with her three brothers. She is accordingly skilled in hand to hand combat and witty repartee — skills gained at the expense of her brothers. Katrina’s claim to fame is having made it to the “American Gladiator” Richmond competition as a finalist in her late 20s, progressing in the competition until a strangely large blonde woman knocked her off a pedestal with an oversized pain-inducing Q-tip. Katrina’s mantra for life is “Be nice. Do good. Embrace embarrassment.” Clearly she’s got No. 3 down.