We got wet …

We took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

How much has the ALS Association raised? From Time magazine:

The organization’s national office has received $5.5 million for Lou Gehrig’s disease research since July 29, compared to $32,000 in the same period last year.

We are very proud that so many of our friends have taken up the challenge.

Now it's your turn. Donate here.

Bill Gates doesn't need Powerpoint to shine! #stopthemyth

Bill Gates has proven he knows something about philanthropy. And now marketing, promotion and donor communication.

The 2014 Gates Annual Letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a masterpiece of philanthropic communication — an immersive online experience that very solidly makes the case for global assistance.

The digital "letter" has everything you would expect from a fundraising report and appeal — prose, facts, charts and compelling stories. It also sprinkles in videos, photos, charts and motion graphics, interactive polls, infographics and slide decks. The site's design is inclusive — it automatically translates into six languages, is responsive and looks great on mobile devices. And there's a downloadable PDF for those who want a more conventional annual report.

The "ask" comes in the form of a hashtag (#stopthemyth) that links to partners who are doing the work supported by the Gates Foundation. 

The letter focuses on three myths that keep us from *really* helping the poor. Bill and Melinda Gates are the authors of the three sections — they squarely attach their names and reputations to the content.

The three myths:

1. Poor countries are doomed to stay poor. 

Bill Gates:

"When I was born, most countries in the world were poor. In the next two decades, desperately poor countries will become the exception rather than the rule."

2. Foreign aid is a big waste. 

Bill Gates again: 

"Health aid is a phenomenal investment. … A baby born in 1960 had an 18 percent chance of dying before her fifth birthday. For a child born today, the odds are less than 5 percent. In 2035, they will be 1.6 percent. I can’t think of any other 75-year improvement in human welfare that would even come close."

3. Saving lives leads to overpopulation. 

Now Melinda Gates: 

"The planet does not thrive when the sickest are allowed to die off, but rather when they are able to improve their lives. Human beings are not machines. We don’t reproduce mindlessly. We make decisions based on the circumstances we face."

Finally, the letter ends with an affirming "Looking Ahead" section. The call to action isn't just about giving money — it's about busting the myths (remember the hashtag #stopthemyth) and showing that the "bad news" most of us hear every day can be replaced by the "good news" that comes out of global togetherness.

We hope you will help get the word out on all these myths. Help your friends put the bad news in context.

And to spread that news, Bill Gates asked Jimmy Fallon for his help in making a viral video.

The Irish are on to something

An enterprising young fundraiser in Ireland has hatched a novel idea to help small non-profits who need a bit of a lift.

It's called Charity Hack 2013 — a 12-hour design charrette of sorts that brings together a team of professional fundraisers to create campaigns to help neophyte non-profits.

Kevin Delaney, the self-proclaimed Hacker-in-Chief whose day job is coordinating Ireland's version of the Relay for Life, concocted the idea with the hopes of giving struggling non-profits a way to tap into some talent they otherwise never could have afforded. 

Delaney and his team have picked five Irish organizations that will benefit from kick-ass fundraising campaigns and are hoping to gather 25 fundraising pros to provide their expertise (they're almost there!).

The results? Well, we'll find out. They get together on August 10 in Dublin to work their magic.

This is an incredible example of how "crowdsourcing" and "kickstarting" can make communities richer and more connected.