ALS ice bucket challenge hit by irresponsible, ignorant writing

ALS ice bucket challenge hit by irresponsible, ignorant writing

Irresponsible bloggers pour cold water on a fantastic fundraising project

“ICE BUCKET FRAUD: ALS FOUNDATION ADMITS THAT 73% OF DONATIONS ARE NOT USED FOR ALS RESEARCH” screams the headline of this poorly researched, poorly written article on US website Political Ears.

All over the internet this past weekend we’ve been seeing shock-horror-dismay posts reacting to allegations that the ALS** must fritter away most of its donations on unworthy things. In this article, the anonymous (“staff”) author alleges…

“Ice Bucket Challenge donations are nearing $100 MILLION. Where is that money going? According to the ALS Foundation (sic), not towards ALS.  Over 73% of all donations raised are going to fundraising, overhead, executive salaries, and external donations. Less than 27% is actually used for the purpose we donated for.”

Get your facts straight before you allege fraud, “staff”

Apart from getting the name of the charity wrong (the main US charity is the ALS Association, although it appears there are smaller, regional charities that include the words ALS Foundation in their titles), “staff” obviously doesn’t know much about illness-based charities and how they operate.

Research is important, yes; but so are education of the public and health professionals; awareness raising; support for patients, their families/carers; and of course fundraising, which – surprise, surprise – costs money to achieve.

“Staff” doesn’t even mention those elements. Yet according to Political Ears’ own pie chart showing the ALS Association’s spend, the truth is a very different story.

Blistering attack by post-graduate economics student

Tom Webb, 22, just starting out on a Masters degree in economics at a British university, wrote a withering post on his Facebook page about the misconceptions in the Political Ears article, and he has given me permission to reproduce it here.

Everybody seems to be moaning about this article, but has anyone ACTUALLY read it? Yes, only 27% of funds are used for research, but that’s not the only purpose of a charity.

The pie chart in the article clearly shows that a further 19% goes towards patient and community services: supporting those and those close to people who suffer from ALS/MND.

32% goes towards public and professional education; so, educating people how to diagnose, treat, and recognize symptoms in an attempt to catch these things earlier and treat them more effectively.

That gives a total of 79%, not the claimed 27%, that’s being used effectively to help those both already and potentially suffering from the disease.

HTWB alsa_logoThe remaining 21% is split across fundraising (14%) and administration (7%), both necessary endeavors for a charity, for obvious reasons.

Secondly, the high salaries for top level employees, whilst maybe not ‘ideal’, is perfectly logical: high salaries attract competent people. Competent people run businesses effectively, efficiently and purposefully. This is in no way an isolated incident; it is common for all large charities. High salaries attract the best from the private sector.

Just think, if they were all salaried at USD $15K, who would actually be willing to do the job? It’s very unlikely they would be able to find someone with the skill level and experience required to run a multi-million pound endeavor successfully. Therefore, the high salary allows the charity to attract the best people to effectively run the charity and provide the greatest benefit for the intended cause.

The claims the article goes on to make about the financials are suggestive, misleading, and frankly, wrong. Painfully, obviously wrong. 

Yes, I’m sure the watchdog would say that 27% of donations making it to intended projects is unacceptable, but this is clearly not the case here as clearly identified in the Jan 2014 figures they posted in their own article.

Please, just think for yourself, do some reading, before blindly believing a load of sh*t posted by an author only identified as ‘staff’, who’s obviously too ashamed to identify themselves as they know they’re immorally slandering a charity for the purpose solely of misleading people and creating a ‘buzz’, which in turn creates ad revenue for Political Ears.

Looks like it’s time you washed your ears out, Political Ears.

How do you feel about this argument? Please share your views.

** ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It’s also known in the USA as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, named after the famous baseball player who was a sufferer. In the UK and other English speaking countries ALS is more usually called MND (Motor Neurone Disease) and in the UK, perhaps the most famous and long-lived sufferer is the physicist Stephen Hawking.

photo credit: theglobalpanorama via photopin cc




  1. Very unfortunate that some ‘journalists’ do not check their facts or manipulate by stating them out of context. It takes money to make money, raise awareness and educate and the REAL distribution of the ALS funds does not seem inappropriate. On the same subject, there is a great TED talk by Dan Pollotta called “The way we think about charities is dead wrong”.

    • Hi Susan and thanks for stopping by. It’s bad enough that these bloggers have to wee-wee on a good cause’s parade, without their getting their facts all wrong into the bargain. Such attention-seeking frivolity is just plainly irresponsible. Ah, well! Hope to see you in TO!