The Ice Bucket Challenge has been a huge boon to the ALS Association, which has raised almost $100 million in the last month to help fight Lou Gehrig’s Disease. And no matter how sick you are of people in your Facebook feed dumping buckets of ice water on themselves, it’s pretty hard to fault a meme that has made giving to charity fun and exciting for so many people.
But from the perspective of donating your money to a charity that can help the greatest number of people, the Ice Bucket Challenge is getting a lot of people excited about the wrong cause. Donation is a very personal decision, but as a series of charts by Visual Magnetic shows, there are better ways to figure out where to donate your money than being tagged in a meme.
Reinterpreting a hard-to-read infographic originally posted by Vox.com, Visual Magnetic’s graphs show that there isn’t much correlation between the number of people an illness kills and the amount of money raised to prevent it. For example, people donate five times more money to fight breast cancer than heart disease, even though the latter kills more than 10 times as many people.
Because of this disparity, some charities need money far more urgently than others, while other charities are–by comparison–overfunded. Based on the ratio of deaths to donations, as well as death rank (number of people killed by each disease) versus donation rank (how much people donate annually to prevent each disease), charities dedicated to preventing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and suicide are actually the most underfunded charities. On the other hand, breast cancer, ALS, and heart disease are the most overfunded causes.
None of this means you shouldn’t donate money to breast cancer or heart disease or do the Ice Bucket Challenge. These are all still excellent, worthy causes. But before you consider dumping a bucket of ice water on your head, ask yourself a question: Is there a charity out there that needs the money more, representing a cause that hits closer to home? Maybe you’d be better off writing a check to them instead.