Crypto is ‘too big to ignore’ for the charitable sector

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Cryptocurrency adoption in the charity space is growing quickly, with 56% of the top 100 charities in the United States now accepting crypto donations as of January 2024, according to the 2024 annual report from crypto charity organization The Giving Block. 

This marks a huge turnaround for nonprofits, many of which were initially hesitant to adopt crypto payments.

As the report states, “When we launched The Giving Block in 2018, we had to practically bust down doors to get nonprofits to talk to us about bitcoin.”

The report adds, “A lot has changed since then.”

Cointelegraph spoke with the Giving Block co-founder Alex Wilson to discover how attitudes are shifting and whether he expects to see charitable organizations trend toward greater crypto adoption in the future.

“Yes, over time, we continue to see greater adoption of nonprofits accepting cryptocurrency donations,” said Wilson. “The market has become too big to ignore. There aren’t many markets in the world that allow a nonprofit to tap into a $2 trillion donor base.”

Wilson believes knowledge and familiarity with cryptocurrency are key to this change.

“Most of it is a matter of education. Many nonprofits just don’t realize how many people own cryptocurrency. Yet once they realize that, they come around to it pretty quickly,” he said.

Keeping crypto donations simple

To onboard as many charities as possible, the Giving Block aims to make it simple for charities to accept crypto donations. Part of that comes in the form of an auto-sell feature, which transfers crypto into dollars at the point of donation.

“If they’d like, they can opt to hodl, but most are more comfortable liquidating the donations, similar to how they treat other non-cash donations like stock or other forms of property. Our goal is to make taking crypto just as easy as taking any other gift a nonprofit gets,” said Wilson.

With this in mind, using a donation solution minimizes a nonprofit’s exposure to cryptocurrency.

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“The main pitfall is trying to do too much without knowing what they’re doing,” said Wilson. “Some nonprofits have opted to take things on themselves rather than work with a trusted partner.”

According to Wilson, it “doesn’t usually end well” for those who try to go it alone.

Trusted partners: Streamlining adoption

Save the Children, a nonprofit focused on improving the lives of children worldwide, began accepting Bitcoin (BTC) in 2013 after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines.

Ettore Rossetti, head adviser for technology, marketing and innovation partnerships at Save the Children, told Cointelegraph that the path to accepting crypto donations wasn’t wholly straightforward, requiring several sign-offs from various departments before the initiative could move forward.

“I secured the proper legal, financial and media communications permissions to be able to accept that Bitcoin donation,” said Rossetti, who admitted “there were concerns” centered around matters such as environmental impact.

Even with those concerns, Rossetti managed to secure all necessary approvals within 24 hours, proving that where the will exists, progress can be very swift indeed.

Having used various trusted partners from 2013 onward, Save The Children is now one of the many nonprofits working with The Giving Block. Many of its programs have benefited from the generosity of crypto donors.

For example, in Afghanistan, crypto donors helped support humanitarian assistance for 730,000 children in the chaotic aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal.

Following the 2023 earthquake in Syria and Turkey, crypto donations helped fund Save the Children’s water and sanitation program, reaching 1.1 million children and 2.6 million people in total.

In Uganda, in cooperation with World of Women, Save the Children raised $100,000 — helping to meet the educational needs of 115,000 children and adolescents.

Crypto’s troubled reputation

Although crypto and charitable giving are becoming increasingly close-knit, there are still challenges ahead. The mainstream media isn’t always kind to the blockchain industry, and nonprofits must remain mindful of their reputation.

Then there are figures such as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren who associate the crypto industry with illicit activity. We asked Wilson what impact figures like Warren have on the industry.

“It’s frustrating since Elizabeth Warren and other politicians have often used exaggerated or outright false data to support their claims,” said Wilson. “Luckily, the facts support us, and the evidence is clear that there is much less illicit activity than people like Elizabeth Warren claim. All the data points to there being less illicit activity in crypto than there is in the traditional economy.”

Rossetti said that one thing Save the Children had to actively consider was the environment and “the reputational risk associated with issues such as energy utilization, especially proof-of-work chains like the Bitcoin blockchain.”

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For Rossetti and Save the Children, the environment is something they are continually mindful of since climate change “exacerbates the problems facing children — more natural disasters and so on.”

“We are the world’s first nonprofit to be part of the Green Climate Fund and the only children’s charity. So, we’re proud of that. We only have one planet,” said Rossetti.

“But in looking at it more closely, just beyond headlines, many of the blockchains are powered by renewable sources or underutilized energy. And therefore, that essentially tends to be overblown.”

Crypto for good: #HODLhope

Save the Children’s latest drive for crypto samaritans is #HODLhope. As the campaign states, “Around the world children are being robbed of their futures by a global economy built on inequality and greed. […] Save the Children believes that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies can be a force for good and a force for financial inclusion.”

The aim of #HODLhope is to raise $10 million in crypto donations by the end of 2024, allowing children around the world to hold on to hope. Having raised nearly $8 million by March, the campaign looks sure to attain that.

For the 44% of the top 100 U.S. charities that have yet to awaken to the power of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency more generally, now may be the time to take note.