Before Taking the Dive, BBB Challenges You to Do Your Research First

Social media is filled with videos and pictures of people voluntarily being doused by fire hoses, jumping into the chilly waters of swimming pools and ponds, and pouring freezing buckets of water over one another to support selected firefighter charities.

Dubbed the “Cold Water Challenge,” friends publicly “call out” one another to be drenched by cold water. Accept the challenge and pay a few dollars to the firefighter charity of your choice before getting a cold blast of water; decline and pay even more. Before accepting the “Cold Water Challenge,” BBB® challenges you to stop, think, and do your research.

The “Cold Water Challenge” is a peer-to-peer (or social) fundraiser. Rooted in the old adage that “people give to people, not causes,” the campaign builds on the personal relationships of supporters to raise money for the selected cause. The posts on social media suggest the campaign is having the intended affect: charities that participate are reporting large numbers of new donors and say they are raising more money than normal.

But is the “Cold Water Challenge” right for you?Pause a moment to consider these points:

    • Do you support the cause? It’s hard to resist peer pressure. However, if you have limited funds for charitable giving and this cause isn’t normally one you’d support, don’t be swayed by the pressure. BBB recommends you stick with the plan you outlined for yourself at the beginning of the year. (Added bonus: sticking with your plan helps you stay off several unwanted solicitation lists!)
    • Do your research before giving. It’s human nature to say “yes!” to supporting a charity when you’ve been asked so publicly. BBB recommends waiting and doing some research first. Make sure you’re donating to a trustworthy charity whose mission you support. Check before donating.
    • The point of the campaign is to turn out new donors for the charity. Consider how you will be perceived by your family, friends, and co-workers if you put them on the spot to make a donation to an unfamiliar charity.
    • Consider any implications accepting the Challenge may have on your job. There are news reports of firefighters using the department’s apparatus to complete the Challenge – only to find out it wasn’t such a good idea. Make sure the event is sanctioned by the fire department hosting the challenge during work hours and make sure to do it safely.
    • Be safe. There are reports of people getting seriously injured participating in this Challenge. If you want to support the charity, but don’t want to take the risk? Legitimate charities will gladly accept a check – whether you drenched yourself or not.

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About Erika Lehman

I started at BBB|Cincinnati in 2004 as a Co-Op in the Charity Department. Today I am the Director of The Center for Ethics at BBB.