Donation management software is a great way to keep track of donors and previous contributors to a cause, but having fundraising strategies can help to raise the profile of an organization and gain more donors for the pipeline. For any nonprofit organization that believed social media wasn’t a worthwhile way to spend resources, the recent success of the Ice Bucket Challenge may give you reason to think twice.

Anyone who has been plugged into social networks for the past few weeks has seen the near-astronomic rise of The Ice Bucket Challenge, a campaign to raise awareness and fundraising for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s not only a fun idea, it has been spreading like wildfire as people tag one another and request their friends take the challenge as well. Participants can either subject themselves to a full-body drenching in ice water – spreading awareness for the campaign – or donate $100 to the cause, The Washington Post reported.

All in all, the viral campaign has gained $13.3 million between July 29 and August 17, an increase of $1.7 million over the previous year. This also translates to more than 250,000 new donors.

The origins of the ice bucket challenge

As Time Magazine noted, everyone from Oprah to Mark Zuckerberg has now participated in this campaign. And while it may seem cutting edge, the Ice Bucket Challenge is actually not new and hasn’t always been associated with ALS. It was a fundraising technique used by a number of organizations to gain donations for their various causes. In this case, when friends nominated one another, they could give to the charity of their choice. On July 15, Chris Kennedy happened to make a video of the challenge, linking it to ALS for the first time. After that, the phenomenon went viral. According to Time Magazine, groups associated with ALS have seen donations increase.

Oddly enough, the campaign that has brought in thousands of new donors wasn’t initiated by the ALS Association at all. However, it does demonstrate how nonprofits can leverage the power of social media to meet their goals.

The next challenge is for these groups to keep the momentum going in the following months and into next year. By capturing new contributors with donation management software, these organizations may be able to continue to capitalize on the surprise success of this phenomenon.