Thank you, and a note on “impact giving”

Friends and family have contributed an amazing $20,000 to “Ken’s Caucus” in support of the ALS Association’s May 2019 Walk to Defeat ALS fundraiser. Those funds will support research to find therapies to slow, stop, or cure ALS, and provide vital support to people with ALS and their caregivers. To all of you who contributed, a very heartfelt thank you!

I know that most giving to causes like “Ken’s Caucus” is done mainly as a general signal of support to the person with the disease or condition. Experts on charitable giving refer to this kind of contribution as “impulse” giving, as opposed to “impact” or strategic giving. The latter is viewed by experts as more intentional, more focused on achieving a specific impact.

I’d like to propose reframing your contribution to the Walk to Defeat ALS, so that you see it as impact giving and not just as a kind gesture — though the two are not mutually exclusive! The funds provided to the ALS Association today are arriving at a critical moment — a post “Ice Bucket Challenge” moment — when a whole generation of exploratory research made possible by the Ice Bucket Challenge is now producing promising leads on therapies that are in the pipeline for clinical trials and that are now competitive for NIH funding. ALS scientists are stating publicly that they believe a therapy to stop or reverse ALS will be developed within five years. This is huge. This is the moment for a big push to support research, both by private contributions and by the National Institutes of Health, the largest single funder of medical research.

Your contributions are critical and very well timed at this pivotal moment in the battle against ALS. You are a stakeholder in our collective public effort to defeat ALS. Every dollar of support we provide for the big push against ALS today is very much “impact giving.” Thank you!

the inaugural 2019 Ken’s Caucus walkers


Author: Ken Menkhaus

Professor of Political Science at Davidson College. Specialist on Somalia and the Horn of Africa. Interests include development, statebuilding, informal governance systems, peace and conflict studies, and political Islam. I also teach on philanthropy and the non-profit sector.

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