Unleashing Crypto’s Philanthropic Promise

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Sparked by the emergence of Bitcoin, the market value of the cryptocurrency space has experienced an exponential rise to well over a trillion dollars, fueling a new generation of crypto philanthropists. 

As the number of people comprising this group climbs, so will their philanthropic giving. And as nonprofits assess this crypto-fueled landscape, they are encountering questions about what cryptos to accept, volatility, and timing in terms of conversion.

In 2013, Save The Children, a leading humanitarian organization became one of the world’s first NGOs to take a dive into the cryptocurrency fundraising space. Today, it accepts a range of cryptocurrencies, including the highly popular Dogecoin. The organization treats the crypto they receive as a donation, not as an investment by immediately converting it into fiat money. 

GiveWell, an independent nonprofit focused on helping people do as much good as possible through their donations, has valued from the ascension of digital tokens like MUNCH, which donates a portion of its transaction fees to causes chosen by their community. GiveWell, in fact, has the distinction of being their first charity.  

UNICEF is another nonprofit that has tapped into the global digital currency constellation, through the sale of non-fungible tokens or NFTs. Then there is The Giving Block, the premier crypto donations platform for charities, universities, and faith-based nonprofits. Through their Crypto Giving Pledge, they ask individuals to donate 1% of their crypto to nonprofits. 

And in a groundbreaking demonstration of the philanthropic power of crypto, Vitalik Buterin of Ethereum fame recently donated 50 trillion tokens — at the time worth $1.2 billion — to India’s Crypto Covid Relief Fund. 

Turning The Page On Crypto Philanthropy

Bitcoin and the Future of Fundraising: A Beginner’s Guide to Cryptocurrency Donations is a new book by Toronto, Canada-based fundraising and cryptocurrency experts Anne Connelly and Jason Shim. In this easy-to-read guide, the duo explores the world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and the impact they are having on the non-profit sector.  Written with nonprofit leaders in mind, it provides a roadmap for setting up donation programs and fostering the engagement of donors. 

In an interview with Gokhshtein Media, Connelly had this to say about the duo’s early orientation to the charity space: 

“Jason and I met in 2013 and at the time I was working in the humanitarian aid industry.  So I had spent several years working with Doctors Without Borders in Central Africa. And he was with an organization called Pathways to Education which does great work around getting kids educated. He also started Canada’s first bitcoin donation program that issued tax receipts and I was just starting mine at an organization called Dignitas International. So that’s how we connected.” 

Connelly talked about how she used to carry nap sacks of money through Central Africa and jungles and military checkpoints as a means of being able to pay their staff. 

“So when I learned about bitcoin in 2012, it became evident to me how insanely transformative that was going to be for economies that didn’t have access to financial services and to banking. This was true as well as for nonprofits in enabling them to do better operations and to open up whole new revenue streams and new donor communities.” 

In terms of the broader purpose of the book, she had this to say: 

“I wanted to help nonprofits understand bitcoin and understand what the opportunity is and help them get involved because it’s such an incredible technology that really is going to be the future of finance. I felt that it was something that nonprofits need to get up to speed on and get involved with.”  

The goal, she says, was to write a book that makes bitcoin super accessible and easy to understand.  The book is directed toward beginners who may know little about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and need a step-by-step understanding of how they work as well as how to get gifts from the crypto donor community. 

Her greatest hope is that readers of the book will feel comfortable enough to take that first step in setting up a crypto donation program. She concludes: 

“Bitcoin and the world of cryptocurrency represents the biggest opportunity for fundraisers in the last decade and probably for the next decade. So a donor program is a great return on investment because it’s basically free to set up, it costs nothing but time, and has the potential to bring in a huge number of major donors into the organizations.” 

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