The most recent fad on social media is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. At first glance it seems like a fun way to raise awareness and donate money to charity. And it is. Mostly.
As a general rule I tend to not like social media fads; they make me feel like a heard animal and reek of narcissism. This sort of challenge lends itself perfectly to self-licensing. The original “rules” of the challenge say dump a bucket of ice water over your head OR donate to charity. This means a person can make themselves FEEL good and get positive feedback from their peers without actually doing anything of significant value. According to the self-licensing phenomenon someone who feels like they have done good is more likely to engage in unethical behaviour in the future.
In this article by William MacAskill he claims that people only give so much to charity and that this type of viral challenge is actually taking money away from other charities. While I really don’t have enough information to determine how much truth there is to that, from my years working in the non-profit field I can tell you that many people do have a donation limit and once it’s spent they will not donate any more.