The Cold Water Challenge – Does Fundraising have a Place on Facebook?


If your Facebook is like mine, over the last few weeks my feed has been blowing up with videos of people jumping into a body of cold water. It’s the Cold Water Challenge that is taking over Facebook, and its not just a bunch of people who want to do something crazy like I initially thought. After watching a few videos and someone posting a link to a YouTube video, it has become apparent that the usual fundraising tactics on Facebook have been updated. According to an article published in a local paper, the Cold Water challenge works like this: “Participants in the Cold Water Challenge make a $10 donation to challenge a friend to jump in the cold lake. Those who take the challenge and the plunge then challenge others to jump in the lake by paying $10 per person. People taking the challenge video their jump and post the clip to Facebook. In the video, the challenge-takers say the name of the person who challenged them and identify people who they challenge.” Since I’m used to just seeing the stories of local charities that need assistance or events that are taking place to support a charity, this challenge definitely gives people an interesting take on fundraising. And its not just happening in my area. In a search for the Cold Water Challenge, there are cities all over the country participating in this event for all different charities.

Since Facebook is a public place where user-generated videos are often shared from one friend to another, I think this is a unique tactic in generating awareness for local charities that need support, but I think it brings up the question of whether people expect to see calls for funds on their Facebook page. Is it just a part of the social media world? Or should Facebook be a no soliciting space that people can go to? Facebook clearly does not have a problem with the fundraising that takes place on its site. In fact, “Despite smaller donations through Facebook, of all the social networks, Facebook “converts” much, much better. For instance, the Artez research found that potential donors coming by way of FB do donate about 23% of the time.”

There are obviously issues that can arise with Facebook fundraising, as you never know what is real or not. The power, though, lies in the community. Most of the fundraising calls I see on my page are for local families who are going through a hard time with accompanying press and videos that support the call. However, I’m sure there are stories out there, just like on the Internet that can mislead people.

Do you think fundraising has a place on Facebook? Is it a valid way to generate funds for people in a community struggling? What problems do you see that could arise over time?


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