New ‘Challenge’, New Charity

Recently, the hottest activity on the global social media platform is known as Ice Bucket Challenge. The famous and not-so-famous alike across the globe all join in the fun.

The activity has an origin: in 4th July 2014, a cancer society in New Zealand started the Ice Bucket Challenge; it is by pouring ice-cold water on participant’s own head that underlines showing care and support towards cancer patients and their respective families. On 15th July, America professional golf player, Chris Kennedy decided to take up the challenge, and subsequently nominated his cousin for joining in the game; reason being his cousin’s husband has already suffered from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) for about 11 years. As so, the rules of the game has changed: either dunk a bucket of ice water on the head, or to donate to ALS Association.


Later on, the game spread from the United States to all parts of the world, well-known characters from the politics, technology, sports, and the media arena, all join in. They choose to either challenge themselves by dunking under ice water, or to show love by donating towards the charity societies. These actions sparkled an unseen wide scale of charity donations on the social media platform such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Netizens, from the rich to the common, are all entertained by their own participation.

How can the Ice Bucket Challenge have such rapid widespread rate, and being so attractive?

Firstly, I think since the first initiator request the nominee to complete the challenge within 24 hours, it is kind of like a relay race pushing you to keep it up and making you excited. Therefore, there is a guarantee of the Ice Bucket Challenge in the wild spread across internet. A more important motivation came from the mass participation of the well-respected like Bill Gates. Due to the massive number of participation, in additional to the celebrity-effect, and the economy resulted from the fans phenomenon, have attracted an even wider crowd of people, and hence the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media.


Secondly, the Ice Bucket Challenge combines both the entertainment and the charity, and given the participants the freedom of choice. You can either treat this activity as a game, or as a charity; or as both. From the view of a great cause, it is charitable to donate directly to recipients. The same definitely goes for raising the awareness of the public and spreading the idea of caring the groups of ALS. Moreover, the Ice Bucket Challenge provides a platform for both: it dissolves the sacredness and the solemnity we feel when comes to do something for charity, provides an ingenious combination to strengthen its outreach. For example, Matt Damon used toilet water to dunk himself for responding Ice Bucket Challenge, promoting saving water for at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone.


This is exactly what the charity in China lacks, the revert of such values. Recently Chinese media reports the compulsory donation from the civil servants in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, with a minimum of 2000 Yuan (≈376 AUD). If any Chinese celebrity contributes a less desired amount towards a disaster relief, public questioning will be raised from the public and netizens. I reckon it is kind of pathological mindset. The thing is whoever you are, the poor or the rich, there is freedom of choice for everyone, in this regard, China needs a sense of entertainment and humour.

In digital era, most of us are connected to social networks. In the case of Ice Bucket Challenge, whether a nominee accepts the challenge or to donate to charity organisation (regardless the amount), no moral kidnapping will be seen. With entertainment as the foundation, Ice Bucket Challenge revert charity to its origin state: lively, free, not compulsory, and not attention-seeking. It is encouraging but not enforcing, and that is how charity activity should be.

Ice Bucket Challenge tells us we all can influence others through our own actions, whether we are the famous or the common. It uses innovation and entertainment to enhance the spreading efficiency and scope of positive energy, and actually brings up an unexpected result; such became the medium and bridge for imparting positive energy.

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