Cryptocurrency for Good: How Bitcoin and Blockchain Contribute to Charity

A cryptocurrency is seen as a synonym for wealth and speculation, not kindness and compassion. But surprisingly, cryptocurrencies have turned into an efficient tool to make good things happen. 

Fidelity Charitable, a major US public charity, recently reported that donations in cryptocurrencies it receives increased tenfold since it started to accept bitcoins in 2015. The organization said it received $69 million in cryptocurrency donations in 2017.  The donations were made in bitcoin and ether and came from 169 different donors.

Major humanitarian initiatives, such as the World Food Program (WFP), have also benefited from the technology. WFP launched the testing of the Ethereum blockchain in January to send funds to refugees in Pakistan. In addition, the organization is already running a full-scale blockchain pilot in Jordan. It has been reported that more than 10,000 Syrian refugees have redeemed their cash transfers on the blockchain-based system.  

Cryptocurrency charity initiatives are supported both by individuals and businesses. An anonymous investor, who goes by the nickname “Pine”, launched Pineapple Fund. The fund says it will give away 5,057 Bitcoins, it has already supported tens of charity initiatives, including the Water Project that provides clean water to people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Coinbase, an online platform for buying, selling, transferring, and storing digital currency, announced it will waiver all fees for registered 501(c) non-profit organizations accepting bitcoin through its merchant tools. “Adding bitcoin as a donation option is a natural next step for non-profits because it eliminates one of the most significant costs remaining —payment processing fees. Any non-profit accepting bitcoin through Coinbase will be able to instantly cash out their bitcoin donations for U.S. dollars and receive a daily bank transfer, free of charge,” said the company.

Also, several social purposes digital coins have been created to support non-profit efforts. For instance, Clean Water Coin. “We are a registered non-profit organization and we’ve created a Crypto Charity and coin that lets a community actively participate in helping provide clean water. To do that we've teamed up with so that we can create campaigns and raise funds for clean water projects,” the initiative says on its site.

In fact, using blockchain-based systems for charity is a win-win approach. They can help improve the reputation of charities as a result of reduced overhead spending thanks to improved operational efficiencies and elimination of unnecessary intermediaries. Also, more charities could launch their own cryptocurrencies, creating a new approach to philanthropy.