ALS Association Begins Doling Out Ice Bucket Challenge Funds, Carefully

Fresh off a icy-cold summer that brought donations pouring in, ALSA has plenty of money to help fund research and treatment endeavors. But it's not going to spend all of it fast—or in one place.

It’s the flip-side of the Ice Bucket Challenge success story: What is the ALS Association going to do with all that money?

Last week, ALSA offered some answers. The organization raised more than $115 million in donations from the viral campaign—more than $100 million of which came in a single 30-day period. Thus far, the association is planning to donate $21.7 million to research into treatment and therapy options as well as a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALSA will get $12.5 million in matching funds, meaning that $34.2 million will go directly toward those combined efforts.

Their operating budget for 2014 certainly reflects this fortunate influx of money, but it’s prudent, too.

ALSA’s board, which voted on the move last week, said it was working to balance the urgent need for treatments with the complications that arise with a sudden windfall.

“We recognize the sense of urgency felt by people living with the disease and their families, and I want to assure everyone that our number one commitment is to making decisions that get treatments to patients in the fastest way possible,” ALSA President and CEO Barbara Newhouse said in a news release.

About $18.5 million of the first round of funding will go to four cooperative alliances conducting research seen as “critical to finding new treatments for ALS,” according to the association: ALS Accelerated Therapeutics (ALS ACT), the New York Genome Center, the Neuro Collaborative, and Project MinE. ALS ACT, an academic-industry partnership, will receive more than half of the funds—$10 million from ALSA, along with $10 million in matching funds from the ALS Finding a Cure Foundation.

The $3.2 million of the ALSA funds that isn’t going to research will go to the association’s 43 treatment center partners and to expediting drug development by working on guidelines with the Food and Drug Administration.

ALSA’s approach to spending the money has received positive notices thus far. Inside Philanthropy writer Kristina Strain noted that taking the slow route ensures the funds aren’t spent carelessly.

“It might’ve been tempting to go out, lottery-style, and throw wads of cash into daring new research trials, say,” Strain writes. “But these guys aren’t blowing their cash on a fancy yacht here. Their operating budget for 2014 certainly reflects this fortunate influx of money, but it’s prudent, too.”

In response to all the Ice Bucket Challenge viral videos and the donations that came with them, the association has posted one of its own: A clip saying thank you to all those who helped. Watch below:


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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