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July 18, 2016

Opinion: Ice-Bucket Challenge No 'Fad' but a Lasting Success

Far from representing the apex of "slacktivism," the "ice-bucket challenge" that swept the nation two years ago has had lasting benefits, significantly raising awareness of and research funding for the neurological disease ALS, according to a New Yorker economics writer.

James Surowiecki notes that annual donations to the ALS Association have stayed about 25 percent higher than they were before the 2014 viral-video phenomenon in which people dumped ice water on their heads and heads while pledging to donate to the cause, derided by some at the time as a feel-good fad that reflected no genuine philanthropic thought or effort.

The association has tripled its yearly outlay for research, Mr. Surowiecki writes, leading to tangible results such as a breakthrough Johns Hopkins University study of the disease that was partially funded by ice-bucket contributions. Citing "Giving USA" figures that showed an overall rise in donations in 2014, he says there is little evidence that the flood of ALS giving did not cannibilize support for other causes. Rather, he suggest, it's more likely that people who donate little or nothing started to give because of the challenge.