The origins of the idea of dumping cold water on one's head to raise money for charity are unclear and have been attributed to multiple sources. From mid-2013 to early 2014, a challenge of unknown origin often called the "Cold Water Challenge" became popular on social media in areas of the northern United States. The task usually involved the option of either donating money to cancer research or having to jump into cold water.
One version of the challenge, which took place in Salem, Indiana as early as May 15, 2014, involved dousing participants with cold water and then donating to a charity, for example a local child diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor; in another version, the Auckland Division of the Cancer Society of New Zealand was the beneficiary. As with similar challenges, it was usually filmed so footage can be shared online.[