A month ago, the National Institutes of Health was the single largest source of research funding for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, in the world.
Now, it’s a bunch of people dumping buckets full of ice water over their heads.
The ALS Association said Friday it has received more than $100 million in donations from people around the world in the last 30 days thanks to the ultra-viral Ice Bucket Challenge. The organization received $2.8 million during the same period last year. That’s a whopping 3,500 percent increase.
The summer’s donations have eclipsed the amount of funding the NIH, a federal facility, receives each year for research for ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. The $100 million is more than double the amount the NIH received for research in 2013 ($39 million), and the amount it is projected to receive in fiscal year 2014, which ends next month ($40 million).
Annual federal funding for ALS has decreased steadily in the last few years, from $59 million in 2010 to $40 million today. The decline is thanks to the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was passed to protect the U.S. from default. The legislation delivered across-the-board budget cuts of about 5 percent in various federal agencies, including the NIH and its National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke program.