TIME Bizarre

A Man Is Listening to 168 Hours of Nickelback for Charity

Celebrities Visit SiriusXM Studios - November 20, 2014
Monica Schipper—Getty Images Nickelback musicians, from left, Mike Kroeger, Daniel Adair, Chad Kroeger and Ryan Peake visit SiriusXM Studios in New York City on Nov. 20, 2014

Give generously

People are willing to do all sorts of humiliating, torturous and even downright dangerous things for a good cause.

Take podcaster Jesse Carey.

On Monday, Carey, from Relevant magazine’s podcast, began a self-imposed “ultimate test of endurance” when he started listening to the entire Nickelback catalog, on repeat, for the entire week — amounting to a total of 168 hours.

With the help of an organization called Charity: Water, Carey wanted to raise $10,000 to build a well in one of the developing nations supported by the group. The campaign has already topped $17,000.

“$10,000 is an incredible amount of money to raise. I mean it’s amazing, our average campaign raises about $1,000,” said Kaitlyn Jankowski, supporter-experience manager for Charity: Water, on last Friday’s podcast.

While the primary goal is to build the well, Carey thinks his endeavor may produce other positive side effects.

“I want someone who’s going through a hard time next week to be like, ‘Huh, I’m really down and out, life’s really got me down, but right now there’s a guy who’s been listening to Nickelback for days straight,’” he said on the podcast.

Right now it has been two days, and Carey is already showing signs of fatigue. Let’s hope he can power through:

“If you’ve got a better idea, I would have loved to have heard it two weeks ago,” he told his listeners last Friday.

MONEY Fundraising

Crowdfunding for a Good Cause Gets Cheaper

Ball picking up money
Getty Images Websites can help you turn small donations into a life-changing gift.

A growing number of sites will help you raise big money for a friend in need. But watch for high fees.

The week before Christmas, a fire gutted the Beverly, Massachusetts home shared by Kevin Wagner, his fiancée and their four young children. Most of their basic possessions were destroyed along with their Christmas presents.

While insurance will cover much of the rebuilding, friends stepped in right away with cash to fill the gap until the claim is settled. As is becoming more common these days, they started crowdfunding campaigns on popular sites—one on DreamFund.com, which holds money in an FDIC-insured savings account, and another on GoFundMe.com, which is linked to a personal bank account. Both sites collect a 5% fee from the donations and pass along a credit card processing fee of about 3%.

For the $25,000 Wagner’s friends raised on DreamFund, that amounts to $2,000, and another $800 went to GoFundMe and its credit card processors for the $10,000 raised on that platform.

A few people were put off after learning about the fees, Wagner says, and simply handed him checks, which added another $10,000 to the effort.

Nevertheless, raising money for personal causes through crowdfunding sites is a skyrocketing business—GoFundMe says such fundraising campaigns increased by 291% between 2013 and 2014, after rising by more than 500% the year before. But the fees make it clear the platforms themselves are, indeed, businesses rather than purely charitable efforts.

More than 2,000 crowdfunding sites have sprung up to try to catch the wave of this rapidly growing industry, says Howard Orloff, vice president of Zacks CF Research and founder of Crowdfunding-Website-Reviews.com. Of those, many are start-ups with little staying power and many are aimed at businesses seeking capital rather than personal causes. Some, like Kickstarter, one of the best known sites, don’t allow personal fundraising.

Regardless of type, the sites make money by taking a percentage of pledges, which results in either a donation being reduced when it reaches the recipient or a surcharge added to the donor so the recipient gets the net amount pledged.

But when it comes to raising money for charity, that may be changing.

On Dec. 15, popular crowdfunding site Indiegogo, which typically charges 4% to 9% (plus fees for PayPal or credit card processing), decided to drop the fee for personal fundraisers. Users of its new IndiegogoLife service only have to sacrifice the 3% taken by the credit card processors.

Indiegogo co-founder Danae Ringelmann says the company didn’t want those who were in need of charity to be subject to the same charges as those trying to launch a business.

“Every dollar counts—we’ve heard that again and again and again,” she says.

Dropping that platform fee is a “game-changer” in the world of crowdfunding, Orloff says. “Smaller sites [like YouCaring.com and Tilt.com] have offered no-fee crowdfunding for a while but none with website traffic, and public trust, anywhere near Indiegogo.”

By contrast, collecting the old-fashioned way—by accepting cash in person or checks to be deposited in a bank—usually involves no extra costs, although some banking fees may apply depending on the kind of account you choose.

But real-world collecting like that has limitations of reach, and not much possibility of the campaign going viral.

With crowdfunding, if the cause is popular enough to land on the home page of one of the more popular sites “it can go pretty wild,” Orloff says. “It can change somebody’s life.”

Indeed, the campaign to raise money for Wagner and his family went far beyond the $5,000 he imagined—the $50,000 raised so far may actually be more than they need.

“We didn’t expect this at all,” Wagner says. “If there is extra , we want to help others. We hope to pay it forward.”

TIME viral

#WAKEUPCALL Might Be The Next ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Celebrities are taking selfies of themselves waking up in the morning in the name of Syrian children

Since the unequivocal success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’s viral campaign—which sparked $100 million in donations in just two months—people have speculated what charitable cause would capture our hearts and wallets next.

Would it be a testicular cancer awareness group’s #FeelingNuts “crotch grab challenge“? While it picked up steam after Hugh Jackman, um, grabbed his crotch, it didn’t fully catch.

But now there’s another contender that might stand a chance at picking up the Ice Bucket Challenge’s baton. #WAKEUPCALL is the latest uber-sharable charity craze, and it consists of celebrities—primarily based in the UK—taking pictures of themselves waking up first thing in the morning.

But the hashtag isn’t only a medium for “I woke up like this” narcissism. Rather it is a call for people to “wake up” and donate to Unicef UK’s efforts to help Syrian children.

And, you know, show off a negligee.

#WAKEUPCALL has some elements working for it that might make it stick. First of all, it already has been adopted by celebrities, meaning that it will reach millions of fans wanting to replicate the trend. It is along the same lines of #NoMakeupSelfie, which raised money for cancer research in the UK. And, like the ice bucket challenge, it is seasonally appropriate. As the temperature drops, we’d much rather lull in bed than dump a bucket of ice water over our heads.

Let’s just hope that people lean towards the humorous rather than duckface.

TIME Jennifer Lawrence

Cancer Foundation Returns Cash From Redditors Who Saw JLaw Nudes

The donations came out of a crude joke about masturbation

The Prostate Cancer Foundation returned all money donated via a post on the website Reddit that was designed to make a joke about leaked naked images of Jennifer Lawrence and a slew of other famous women hacked from the women’s Apple iCloud accounts.

“We would never condone raising funds for cancer research in this manner. Out of respect for everyone involved and in keeping with our own standards, we are returning all donations that resulted from this post,” the foundation said in a statement Tuesday.

The pictures began making the rounds online on Sunday, after a host of celebrities’ personal Apple iCloud accounts were compromised. A Reddit user suggested Monday in a thread on the site that fellow Redditors who had viewed nude images of celebrities donate to prostate-cancer research in Lawrence’s honor. The crux of the intended joke is that Lawrence has supported fighting prostate cancer “in the past” because masturbation may help prevent the disease.

The fundraising drive raised more than $6,000 before it was shut down by the foundation.

TIME society

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Donations Just Topped $100 Million

More than 3 million people have donated

Donations from the Ice Bucket Challenge broke the $100 million mark Friday as people around world continue to dump ice on their heads and donate to the ALS Association to help combat Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“The word gratitude doesn’t do enough to express what we are feeling right now,” ALS President and CEO Barbara Newhouse said in a statement.

The $100 million in donations came from more than 3 million donors who have contributed since the challenge went viral in late July. The ALS Association raised only $2.8 million in the same period last year.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been a social media phenomenon, grabbing the attention of millions of Americans including many celebrities and political figures. Some have speculated that it might forever change the way charities approach fundraising.

TIME health

The Real Ice Bucket Challenge

What’s harder than dumping freezing water on your head? Repeating this kind of success

One of the most viral philanthropic social-media campaigns in history has reached our family too. We were about to board an international flight when both of my children were called out by their friends on Facebook to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the deadly neurological condition commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

My kids are no strangers to ALS. Our neighbor has it, and my daughter is a student at Boston College, the alma mater of Pete Frates, the young man whose fight inspired the challenge. But I don’t recall talking about ALS as a family before, and I doubt either of my kids had ever discussed it with their friends. Like most other rare diseases, ALS doesn’t often find itself in the spotlight.

At 30,000 ft., we talked for the first time about the devastation ALS brings and what is being done about it. We watched countless videos of friends who had stepped up to the Ice Bucket Challenge. And within hours of landing, they too had dumped icy water–and uploaded the proof. We watched together in amazement as, within days, everyone from George W. Bush to Taylor Swift got soaked in the name of charity.

So fun! So creative! So … effective. Why didn’t the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), the cancer-research organization I started when I was diagnosed with the disease, think up something like this? my kids asked. I had no answer, only the wish that we had.

So far, the social-media craze has raised a whopping $94.3 million for the ALS Association since the end of July. That’s up from $2.7 million in the same period last year. And that’s just one of many ALS-focused organizations to have seen such a windfall.

As brilliantly simple as the Ice Bucket Challenge is, its phenomenal success is making many of us think hard about new ways to raise awareness and dollars.

The efficiency of the campaign, for one, is awe-inspiring. The only overhead the ALS Association incurred was the cost and staff time of drafting and then sending a single email to 60,000 people in its database. The campaign also demonstrated the power of one or two people who care passionately about a cause. After all, the Ice Bucket Challenge wasn’t started by the ALS Association or a PR agency but by young people who wanted to support their friend with ALS.

For me, the biggest takeaway of all is the need to engage a younger generation of potential donors. A recent report showed that in 2012, 75% of 20-to-35-year-olds had donated to philanthropies the year before, and another 70% were more than willing to ask their friends and relatives to do the same. Millennial enthusiasm can make things go viral, sometimes massively so. The results speak for themselves.

But now that the money has been raised, a potentially harder challenge is emerging. Many people are questioning what the ALS Association will do with such an extraordinary influx of money. In my view, the opportunities are endless.

As is the case for most rare diseases, progress in ALS research has been severely hamstrung by funding shortages. There are few treatments–none of them effective–and a cure for the disease remains elusive. The ALS community’s windfall will dramatically change that landscape. Simply put: science that was never before imaginable is now possible.

This will no doubt create a groundswell of interest in ALS research. It will attract new scientists to the field who may not otherwise have been interested in the disease but who have to follow the funding. And it will pique the interest of pharma and biotech companies, which may not otherwise have had the incentive to pursue R&D for such a relatively small patient population.

Making the most of each dollar means developing milestones for every project funded and communicating these results back to donors. Over time, this will help turn the 1.9 million new donors captured through the Ice Bucket Challenge into repeat donors.

Watching how the campaign has unfolded so far has already prompted us at the MMRF to think of new ways to more effectively raise dollars. My hope is that long after the Ice Bucket Challenge dries up, other disease-based nonprofits will be inspired by how the ALS community stewards the funds raised this summer and continues to build support for curing such a cruel disease.

Giusti is founder and executive chairman of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

TIME als ice bucket challenge

I Figured Out Why I Hate the Ice Bucket Challenge

Two women get doused during the ice bucket challenge at Boston's Copley Square on Aug. 7, 2014.
Elise Amendola—AP Two women get doused during the ice bucket challenge at Boston's Copley Square on Aug. 7, 2014.

I shudder to think what Americans look like dumping freezing cold water over our heads while so much of the world is plunged into acute suffering, and I can tell you exactly why

With much gratitude, somehow my weekend Facebook thread was remarkably free of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos. A friend with whom I spent the weekend was not so lucky. Every time she looked at Facebook she exclaimed “Another one! Another one. Oh my God. Sheryl Sandberg! Oh my God! Bill Gates! Russell Crowe! Justin Timberlake!” I actually watched Justin Timberlake’s, not because I am obsessed with Justin Timberlake, but because I found him somehow the most surprising. But he really took to ice water, well, I guess the way a duck takes to regular water.

But my friend and I found ourselves ultimately irritated by the ALS challenge, which has shown no signs of fading. We wondered why. How could we object to an organization raising $80 million dollars to help combat a terrible disease? Charitable fundraising is not a frivolous pursuit. Plus, I myself had done many only-charitable-to-myself frivolous things this weekend. I flew in an airplane. I ate food out of takeout containers. I swam in a lovely pool.

Still exploring our irritation, my friend and I watched one particular video of a woman standing in front of her Malibu beach house, screaming as the icy water fell on her head. I’d seen and heard other ALS Ice Bucketeers scream, but this one was particularly bloodcurdling. In that scream, I knew why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge rubbed me the wrong way.

At any given time, many people on the planet are enduring war and famine and violence. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that in the last few weeks the news been especially awful. Around 2,000 Palestinians and 66 Israelis have died in Gaza since that conflict flared up. In our very own country, a police officer shot an unarmed 18-year-old boy, six times. This morning, Sudanese rebels shot down a U.N. helicopter.

And here we are in America dumping ice water on our heads, which, I insist, is more than just harmless fun for a good cause. It is disrespectful to the literally millions of people in the world who are, as I type and you read, in actual physical pain. To then post that experience in public forum is essentially kind of a subtle form of bragging. “My life is so without trauma that I find creating moments of trauma exhilarating, and hilarious.” The fact that there are hundreds of thousands of Americans creating and sharing these videos suggests that we as a nation are making the same boast.

Do I think everyone who did the ALS challenge is a terrible person? Of course not. Do I think that there’s another way that ALS could have raised all that money so fast? Unlikely. It’s certainly better for the ALS Association and the approximately 30,000 Americans who have ALS that this happened. That said, I shudder to think about what we look like dumping freezing cold water over our heads while so much of the world at this time is plunged into acute suffering over which they have no control. Not to mention the fact that we are also in the middle of an historic drought, and most of the challenge water is from the tap, not the toilet or another used source (an exception being Matt Damon, who rightly called dumping clean water on his head “a little crazy”).

Imagine being a suffering person in the world, watching Americans spend the weekend dumping water on their heads as a quixotic impetus to give—or to avoid giving? Which is it?—money. In Gaza, having bombs drop all around you and sharing the one remaining jug of water left in your kitchen with four other people. In Ferguson, Missouri.

I am not saying that Americans should have spent their weekends in hair shirts, flagellating themselves. But if we’re going to be excited about having this connected world, we need to act like citizens of that world and try to be aware that there are other people living in it, whose experience is absolutely nothing like ours. And with that realization, it might be nice to just quietly, without screaming or wasting, send someone who has less than you, someone who suffers more, a check. Just because.

 

Sarah Miller also writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels, Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.

TIME Research

Ice Bucket Challenge Nears $80-Million Mark

Supporters of Michael Brown, Kalisha Gilmore (L) and Recorida Kennedy (R), pour ice water on Kevin Ephron as he takes the ice bucket challenge in remembrance of Brown along Canfield Drive, where he was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri August 24, 2014.
Joshua Lott—Reuters Supporters of Michael Brown, Kalisha Gilmore (L) and Recorida Kennedy (R), pour ice water on Kevin Ephron as he takes the ice bucket challenge in remembrance of Brown along Canfield Drive, where he was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri August 24, 2014.

The funds have come from 1.7 million donors

The ALS Association has raised $79.7 million to combat Lou Gehrig’s Disease since July 29, as the Ice Bucket Challenge continues to encourage people around the world to dump ice over their heads and send in money.

The organization raised just $2.5 million during the same period last year.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, which began last month and has become a viral Internet sensation, has attracted 1.7 million contributors. Political figures like George W. Bush and celebrities like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have taken the challenge.

The ALS Association, which raised $64 million in all of 2013, has described the influx in funds as “a game changer” for the organization’s efforts.

Other groups outside the ALS Association have benefited from the challenge, too. The Project ALS, which also raises money for ALS research, said earlier this month that the challenge has attracted donations.

TIME Research

Ice Bucket Challenge ALS Donations Break $50 Million Mark

The organization raised $64 million in all of 2013

The Ice Bucket Challenge is the gift that keeps on giving for the ALS Association. The organization raised more than $10 million on Thursday alone, it said, bringing its total haul since July 29 to $53 million. For comparison’s sake, the group raised $2.2 million during the same period last year.

The contributions, which have come from more than 1 million new donors as well as some old donors, are an enormous boon for the ALS Association, whose national office raised only $19 million in all of 2012.

Since the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral in early August, social media outlets have been crowded with videos of people dumping ice on their heads after delivering a short message explaining their support for research and treatment of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Public figures who have taken the challenge include politicians like George W. Bush and movie stars like Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck.

The ALS Association is not the only organization to benefit from the viral trend. Opposition to embryonic stem cell research from some Catholics has led to an influx in donations to other charities that support ALS research without using embryonic stem cells. Project ALS, a smaller charity dedicated to ALS research, raised huge sums after Ricky Gervais and Ben Stiller took the Ice Bucket Challenge in its support.

TIME Research

Why Some Catholics Won’t Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Concerns raised about stem cell research

Not everyone is jumping to take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which has gone viral and raised millions for research into Lou Gehrig’s disease. Following the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s decision to ban its schools from donating to the ALS Association and a widely read blog post by a Catholic priest, some Catholics are questioning the ethics of contributing to ALS charities that fund research with embryonic stem cells.

“We deeply appreciate the compassion, but there’s a well established moral principle that goods ends are not enough. The means must also be morally licit,” said Cincinnati Archdiocese spokesperson Dan Andriacco.

Father Michael Duffy, whose blog post on the issue has been shared on Facebook more than 100,000 times, said he started hearing chatter online two weeks ago suggesting that donations to the ALS Association might be used for embryonic stem cell research, which conflicts with Catholic doctrine. When he was nominated for the challenge himself, he looked into it and discovered that the ALS Association did in fact fund embryonic stem cell research.

Catholic church doctrine holds that life begins at conception. Because embryonic stem cells come from very early-stage embryos, the church holds that destroying the embryo is akin to taking a life.

ALS Association spokesperson Carrie Munk acknowledged that the organization currently funds one study using embryonic stem cells, but added that donors can ask that their money not be used for this purpose.

Duffy said that option isn’t sufficient.

“I would still have trouble with that because you’re supporting an organization that is taking someone’s life,” he said.

Instead, he suggested an alternative charity, the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, which advocates for stem cell research using adult stem cells. In Cincinnati, the Archdiocese has taken Duffy’s recommendation and asked its schools to direct their funds there if they want to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Apparently, Duffy’s recommendation is working. The John Paul II organization said it has received dozens of donations per hour in recent days and that its website crashed because of the influx in traffic. Typically, the organization only receives a couple donations each day.

But despite the questions from some Catholics, the ALS Association continues to rake in cash. It’s raised $41 million since July 29, compared with just over $2 million in the same period last year.

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