From Clean Water Supply to Rebuilding Notre Dame：Crypto and Blockchain in Charity
30 Jun, 2019 11:09
The technology that underpins cryptocurrencies has been gradually entering the charity sector, purportedly providing more transparency and trust to the industry — especially given a decrease in people’s trust in charity organizations, where the public is increasingly concerned about how charities spend raised money.
Governments and blockchain projects embrace charity space
Governments around the world have been showing increasing interest in blockchain deployment and digital currency adoption for philanthropy, although few of them have implemented clear regulations toward the new type of currency at the legislative level.
Recently, the British Virgin Islands — a United Kingdom overseas territory in the Carribean — partnered with blockchain firm Lifelabs.io to launch an alternative cryptocurrency-enabled payments infrastructure for residents across its network of islands to ensure that residents can continue access essential goods and services in the event of a humanitarian crisis.
Andrew Fahie — premier and minister of finance of the British Virgin Islands — said that blockchain-based financial innovation “comes at a pivotal time for our people and our economy, while the memory of recent natural disasters remains fresh in our minds and hearts, and the pressure for increased economic efficiency keeps mounting.”
The mayor of the South Korean capital, Seoul, introduced a five-year plan for developing the blockchain industry in the city last October. The project entitled “Blockchain City of Seoul” contains a number of measures for promoting and developing blockchain-related initiatives and education in the city from 2018 to 2022.
Last September, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) revealed plans to implement blockchain as part of an overhaul of its charity tracking system. The MCA’s four-year plan through 2022 specifically pledges to “explore the use of blockchain technology in charitable donations, charity tracking, transparent management” and elsewhere.
Officials were set to “build a tamper-proof charity organization information query system and enhance the authority, transparency and public trust of information publishing and search services.” The plan confirmed that the blockchain tech component was chosen to “complete the new round of the ‘Charity China’ platform’s upgrade.”
Recent years have seen a number of blockchain and crypto-focused organizations — from well-known to newly formed ones — stepping into the charity industry as well. Just recently, news broke that a charitable campaign dubbed “Airdrop Venezuela” — which is set to enable direct transfer of $1 million in cryptocurrency donations to the country’s citizens — registered 60,000 verified beneficiaries and raised $272,000.
The campaign leader, professor Steve Hanke, underscored that the project aims to demonstrate how crypto can be used by relief agencies globally to securely and transparently deliver funds and aid to people in need. As the country struggles a still-ongoing political crisis and ongoing economic turmoil, bitcoin (BTC) trading volumes in Venezuela were reported to have reached an all-time high in February of this year.
In the United States, the Bail Bloc Initiative started using cryptocurrency raised through charity to help people get out of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pretrial incarceration last November. ICE is a law enforcement agency of the federal government of the U.S., the mission of which is to monitor cross-border crime and illegal immigration.
The Bail Bloc set a goal to help charged immigrants pay their bail with money raised through cryptocurrency mining. The initiative released an app that consumes a small portion — from 10% by default to 50% optionally — of users’ computing power to mine monero (XMR) once it is installed.
Leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance revealed in February that its philanthropic arm, BinanceCharity Foundation (BCF) — which was first launched in October 2018 — rolled out its charity campaign “Lunch for Children” in the capital of Uganda, Kampala. According to the program, the organization is set to provide two meals a day during the full year of 2019 to more than 200 students and school staff.
In late 2018, the BCF opened a new fundraising channel on its blockchain-powered donation platform. The program is conducted in support of terminally ill patients and disadvantaged children in Malta and Gozo.
The CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, announced the launch of a charitable initiative dubbed “GiveCrypto.org” to “financially empower people by distributing cryptocurrency globally,” last June. GiveCrypto.org intends to raise funds from crypto owners and distribute small amounts to people who live in emerging markets — more specifically, to those going through financial crisis.
A bitcoin-only charity called the Pineapple Fund that was established by an anonymous donor contributed 5,104 BTC to 60 charities around the world in 2017, supporting a variety of projects, from clean water supply in sub-Saharan Africa to digital rights protection. At the time, the donated digital currency was exchanged into $55,750,000.
The progressive adoption of digital currencies makes traditional nonprofit organizations more flexible in attracting funds from new sources. According to a report by the largest donor-advised fund in the U.S., Fidelity Charitable, the organization received over $30 million in cryptocurrency contributions in 2018 and $106 million since the program’s launch.
In 2017, Fidelity reportedly received $69 million — which made it a record year for cryptocurrency donations — while in 2016, the value of crypto donations amounted to only $7 million. Fidelity notes in the report that digital currency donations “eliminate any capital gains taxes and give the full fair market value to charity.”
Recently, the world was appalled by the massive destruction of the 800-year-old French cathedral Notre Dame de Paris following the devastating fire that engulfed the church on April 15. Days after, an array of companies, organizations and individuals donated millions of dollars to reconstruct the damaged cathedral, with the international cryptocurrency and blockchain community reacting promptly by launching donation campaigns as well. The French crypto community also launched a cryptocurrency donation campaign dubbed “Notre Dame des Cryptos” to help rebuild the cathedral. The team behind the campaign emphasized that many people around the world want to fund the reconstruction, with bitcoin being a global and universal cross-border solution that is reliable against censorship