Macmillan: We did not hijack #icebucketchallenge

Civil Society Media's Carys Pugh did the challenge for MNDA

Macmillan: We did not hijack #icebucketchallenge15

Fundraising | Alice Sharman | 21 Aug 2014

Macmillan has hit back against accusations on social media that it has hijacked #icebucketchallenge, saying the craze has been raising money for cancer charities in New Zealand since July.

The challenge has peaked in publicity in the last week as celebrities in the US continue to nominate each other, while showing off their famous friends, to pour iced water over themselves and donate money to American charity ALS Association.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is the most common form of motor neurone disease.

The challenge has also become popular in the UK, with other charities including the motor neurone organisation MND Association and Macmillan Cancer Support benefitting from people's participation.

Macmillan, which has now raised over £250,000 through donations as a result of the challenge, first noticed it taking place in New Zealand around a month ago. It says that the challenge was not being done for one charity in particular, but those taking part were choosing a cancer charity to donate to.

A spokeswoman told Civil Society News: “A few of our supporters spotted it and did it for Macmillan in the UK. We thought this was fantastic and tried to encourage more people to take on the challenge for us, spreading the word to all our supporters through our social media channels and support for us has grown from there.”

The Cancer Society, a cancer charity in New Zealand, thanked those who had so far donated through the “Ice Water Challenge” in a statement dated 8 July 2014. Macmillan went on to receive its first donation as a result of the challenge on 23 July.

The ALS Association stated on its website on 12 August that it had received $4m in the two weeks since 29 July, which appears to be the date that the charity started promoting the campaign.

Former Boston College baseball player, Peter Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, has been credited by some, including the MND Association, for helping the trend go viral. His video for #icebucketchallenge was posted to Facebook on 31 July.

The American charity has now received donations totalling $22.9m (£13.8m), as celebrities including Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Mark Zuckerberg take part.

Its UK-based sister charity, Motor Neurone Disease Association,  said donations were started organically by one of its volunteers. It started receiving its first donations online as a result of the challenge around 8 August. Although it could not reveal an overall figure for how much it had raised through its text number and website, its Justgving account for the challenge has currently raised over £14,000.

Macmillan, which has received a lot of criticism on Facebook and Twitter for “hijacking” the hashtag, said: “Of course we’re aware of the coverage ALS have received in the US and now over here, mainly over the past week. It’s brilliant and we love how it has helped to encourage people around the world to get involved for a number of different charities."

A spokeswoman said: “To date 85,000 people have taken on the challenge for Macmillan which has raised over £250,000. This is enough to fund five Macmillan nurses for a year who will offer support to almost 800 people affected by cancer.

“While we’ve had people taking on the challenge for over four weeks, due to the ALS campaign in America over the past week or so we’ve seen this trend grow in recent days, with lots more people taking on the challenge.”

Sally Light, chief executive of the MND Association said: “The Ice Bucket Challenge is an amazing and unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness of what is a devastating terminal disease.

“We care for thousands of people affected by MND across England, Wales and Northern Ireland but we also fund global research. The amazing sums of money being donated across the world and with sister organisations in the USA and Australia too will go a long way towards finding out more about the disease for which there is no current cure.”

  • Three members of staff at Civil Society Media have so far braved the ice bucket. Our intrepid subscription sales exec, Carys Pugh, accepted the challenge this morning (pictured).

An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Peter Frates as a former basketball player, rather than a baseball player.

John Mcgrath
24 Aug 2014

If you care to research you'll find this was going on way before ALS. THEY have made over 50 million from it. Choose your charity and donate. Don't bicker.

James M
24 Aug 2014

America is not the world much though some believe it to be the case. It is clear that this campaign began in New Zealand not under the banner of any one specific charity. ALS have been phenomenally successful in the US at linking their cause to the challenge but this does not mean the rest of the world need follow. How can Macmillan ride roughshod over smaller charities by using fundraising ideas before they did? Should they release all of their fundraising and campaigning ideas to other charities to use first or just this one Steve?

24 Aug 2014

The relevance of the challenge is that the impact of the ice cold water momentarily simulates what it feels like to suffer MND. this is not true of the other illnesses for which this is silly fundraising harm in that. Suggesting this is a good way to raise money for water aid is truly ridiculous for what I would think are obvious reasons. My money will be going to MND Scotland.

1 Jan 2015
Response to [ccat]

In actual fact it started 2 months earlier for deaf people before ALS etc took it on. Hope that clears things up.

26 Aug 2014
Response to [ccat]

Ccat - Whilst I agree with your sentiments, I have to admit that my money did indeed get donated to WaterAid. However, I used rain water collected from the water butt in the garden, to help highlight the sheer volumes of fresh, clean water that are being wasted on the challenge. Ultimately, however, people will do these things in the way which suits them best, and donate to whichever organisation the feel the greatest affinity with. If it raises money and awareness then perhaps we should just embrace it and hope that charities stop the bickering over who started the trend.

24 Aug 2014

They should at least use #macmillanicebucketchallenge if theyre going to do the same as ALS

24 Aug 2014

Get a grip people. It's all about feel good factor for people wanting to do something for a charity, any charity. As always, someone wants to demean it rather than applaud the donation. Chill out , it's all going to good causes....

23 Aug 2014

What saddens me is that people are donating to Macmillan as they think they are involved with ALS. Macmillan haven't really done much to clarify the situation. People are free to donate to whoever they like but when they make a donation to Macmillan believing it's helping another charity that is wrong. Macmillan should put a statement out to the public that they have nothing to do with ALS / MND and then people can make their own informed choice who they would like to donate to. Its a David & Goliath situation here. In the UK the MNDA are relatively unheard of due to the nature of MND. I had never heard of them until my Dads diagnosis but they did so much to help him before he died & are now my charity of choice regardless of the Ice Bucket challenge

Steve Walters
22 Aug 2014

Macmillan deserve all the criticism they are getting. Riding roughshod over small charities is demeaning Macmillan and depriving the smaller charities of much needed exposure.

Cancer deservedly get enormous amounts of government and charitable funding while cinderella diseases such as the neurodegenerative diseases of which Motor Neurone Disease is one, get very little if any government support and rely on charitable giving to help those with disease and support research.

For a small charity it is much more difficult to get exposure in the media and the ALS charity in the USA is to be congratulated for achieving such exposure on an international basis and sharing it with the MND Association.

It does Macmillan no credit in trying to justify its muscling in on the concept by citing occurrences in other countries as all the exposure in this country has come from the USA.

Eilean Craig
23 Aug 2014
Response to [steve walters]

I agree. My husband died of MND (PBP type) and lived for only eight months after his diagnosis. I do understand that cancer sufferers need and deserve specialist nursing but most definitely not at the expense of those suffering from other illnesses. Diverting public attention away from MND, collecting donations which might otherwise have been made to the small charities supporting the disease is, at best, misrepresentation.

I always believed – naively it now appears - that those working with charities have a social conscience and behave in a morally “correct” way. I expect immorality and deceit from big business and politicians. I don’t expect very big, very well-known and well-supported charities to appropriate the ideas and funding of tiny, low-profile charities. Through its behaviour in the Ice Bucket Challenge, Macmillan has lost two potential contributors and possible fund-raisers.

22 Aug 2014

What I find unacceptable is the paid for advert that comes up when you search for als icebucket challenge. Of course people should be able to choose which charity to support but actively advertising to divert clicks away from the uk equivalent of als is a low blow.

22 Aug 2014
Response to [Bob]

Steve - people were doing the ice bucket challenge for different causes before ALS picked it up. Doesn't that mean they're running roughshod over those causes?

Bob - MND have been doing paid advertising too.

Bill - ALS copied the idea. Macmillan had it's first donation from it before ALS even promoted it.

22 Aug 2014

Firstly, if you are doing an article at least get some facts right! The guys name is Peter Frates and he played baseball and not basketball!! Regardless of who started this, charities are benefitting!

21 Aug 2014

If they'd looked at the hashtag it's obvious the campaign is ALS focused. The least they could do is use a different hashtag, or, yi know, come up with original campaigns instead of just copying others ideas

Matt Dixon
21 Aug 2014

I'm shocked to see why Macmillan are getting so much criticism I donated to them on the 10th July after doing the ice water challenge. I was nominated by my sister. This craze within Britain actually started within the British deaf community at the end of June where most people donated to Macmillian cancer or wateraid.

I think some are being very protective and wrongly claiming this as their own when actually it's not. The purpose of it is that the nominated person can choose their own charity to support. No one owns this craze.


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