Putting a value on awareness


I was initially charmed by the ice bucket challenge—I still am, actually—but have found myself wondering: what is the value of awareness?

First, I think it’s fabulous that everyone from Bill Gates to my coworker Heather (nice job!) has gone online and accepted the challenge. And it’s obviously working: as of yesterday, more than $15 million has been raised, compared to $1.8 million last year. That’s a lot of money and it's directly because of people doing the challenge.

Let’s face it: in this day and age, it’s not difficult to get people to post pictures/video online of themselves (although I daresay the icy water might give the weak of heart pause). What’s harder is getting people to write out that check. I understand that. I’ve let my membership to the American Diabetes Association lapse, simply because I never seem to have that extra $28.

What does the ADA do with that $28? A lot more than raise awareness. It pays for education, information, legal advocacy and research.

I have read articles about charitable events, such as 5ks that seek to raise funds—and awareness—for worthy causes. I’ve read comments from organizers who say, awareness is great but it only goes so far. It’s not that they are not grateful, but awareness only goes so far.

I’ve also spoken to women’s health providers about pink ribbon products. You know, everything from kitchen appliances to scarves. Sometimes, the providers told me, the message gets lost in the sea of pink.

Theresa Flaherty