What a year!
The hype around cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology reached new peaks. Fresh capital flowed into ICOs and from there, spilled to the more established cryptos such as bitcoin, dash, litecoin, monero, and others. The price of bitcoin exploded. One bitcoin reached a value of 20k USD, something many thought could not possibly happen so quickly. Investors and speculators entered the cryptocurrency sphere by the thousands, lured by the fear of missing out (aka FOMO). Even taxi drivers and housewives started talking about crypto, tokens and some even engaged in trading.
Banks and regulators developed an interest in blockchain technology, but continued to dismiss cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin added more obituaries to its collection.
In all this irrational exuberance and excitement, we at the BitHope Foundation quietly continued to pursue our mission. As always, we made sure that “the other side” of cryptocurrency, the one unrelated to profits and receives as much attention as we, as a small organization, can afford to generate.
We are happy that thanks to the kindness of numerous pseudonymous donors from around the world and due to the price rise of bitcoin, more than 25 000 BGN (12 780 EUR / 15 500 USD) in donations were distributed to 10 campaigns in the last 12 months.
This is a humbling number for us at the BitHope Foundation.
It allowed us to spread the message that cryptocurrency can be a force of good in the world. This was and will continue to be important in the future. We feel that the tide of discontent with cryptographic assets existing on public blockchains is rising. Governments, banks and legacy financial institutions are waking up to the threat of this new technology. We foresee that in 2018 defamation campaigns in various forms will try to manipulate public opinion in favor of the established financial elites. Cryptocurrencies will be presented more and more as untrustworthy, fleeting, and even dangerous. Terrorists, criminals, scammers and money-launderers will be publicly associated with crypto more aggressively. Speculators who lost large sums due to cryptocurrency trades will be used to show how scary math-based-money is. There will be a grain of truth in all of that, as is the case of any revolutionary technology. However, people should never forget that media thrives on overexposing scandals and cryptocurrencies were created precisely for the purpose of being inconvenient to the established financial and monetary monopoly.
What makes us even more proud of our small achievement is the fact that we managed to distribute the larger part of the funds without a bank account. At the beginning of December 2017 all banks in Bulgaria closed the accounts of crypto-related businesses and other legal persons (the Bulgarian Bitcoin Association issued an official statement). There is currently no bank in the country that will provide services to companies or even non-profits that operate with cryptocurrency. The BitHope Foundation was also affected, despite having introduced anti-money laundering rules since its establishment in 2014. One of the primary sources of funds for the Foundation – CoinFixer.com – stopped its operations. At this time, the only way to withdraw funds from the cryptocurrency exchange we use is by selling crypto locally, for cash. That is exactly how we managed to get enough money on hand in order to distribute your donations to our non-profit partners. Unable to make bank transfers, we had to physically visit different bank branches and deposit the funds. You can find all deposit-related documents in the completed campaigns section of our website – simply open a campaign and click on the "Download supporting documentation" link. If this sounds as too much work, have a look at the photos below. The Director and Founder of the BitHope Foundation took some photos of himself after donating the bitcoin-generated funds to two of our charitable campaigns.
We believe that banks, supported by governments, will continue to demonstrate their dominant position in today’s local and global economic interactions. We expect more restrictions and more “inconvenience” introduced for people and companies who operate with cryptocurrencies. The crypto-sphere will suffer due to its explosive success.
Nonetheless, as long as there are believers in the fundamental ideas of cryptocurrency and the societal empowerment that public blockchain systems can bring, the revolution will persevere.
For now though, have a look at the campaigns that received donations from the BitHope Foundation, thanks to the bitcoin community worldwide.
1. Sports Charity League. Thanks to the financial support of bitcoin donors, children and adolescents will be able to select and practice their favorite sport in an organized manner, in the presence of coaches, known athletes, and an audience (tournaments). Any funds generated by these tournaments will be used to support children and adults with health problems.
Donation: 2977 BGN / 1522 EUR / 1846 USD
2. Live Bravely! The funds provided by the BitHope Foundation will be used to support the integration of children and young people with diabetes by proving a friendly and healthy social environment.
Donation: 1467 BGN / 750 EUR / 910 USD
3. Preeclampsia? I want to know. The aim of the initiative was to provide more information about the complicated health condition Preeclampsia and help pregnant women from risk groups to undergo the screening for free. The funds were spent on the purchase of biochemical tests that are not mandatory for pregnant women and are costly for many of them.
Donation: 2215 BGN / 1132 EUR / 1373 USD
4. Brotherhood of the Phoenix. The aim of the campaign was to raise money for safeguarding of the most vulnerable nests of the endangered Egyptian vultures and provide safe food during their period of nesting. The funds will cover the travel expenses of volunteers – to reach the nests and provide supplementary food to the hatching vulture pairs.
Donation: 2671 BGN / 1366 EUR / 1656 USD
5. Hope for Mental Health. To goal of the campaign was to raise funds to provide psychological help to children, youngsters and adults with 70% to 100% disabilities. These people have limited access to quality healthcare services and wheelchair accessibility is severely limited even non-existing.
Donation: 700 BGN / 358 EUR / 434 USD
6. Character Workshops. The campaign aims to raise awareness of character strengths among 300 students in Bulgaria by involving them to participate in 15 character-building workshops, conducted in-class in their own primary schools.
Donation: 1537 BGN / 786 EUR / 953 USD
7. Billboard Initiative by the Bulgarian Bitcoin Community. The campaign raised enough funds to hire a downtown billboard for two weeks and put ads in the metro trains in the city of Sofia, promoting bitcoin. Search for #bitcoinisthefuture in Facebook.
Donation: 1861 BGN / 951 EUR / 1154 USD
8. Uspelite.bg. The Bithope Foundation supported the largest online media platform dedicated to positive journalism in Bulgaria - uspelite.bg. The funds will be used to pay the monthly salary of a full-time editor, hired by the media. Have a look at the announcement of the donation on uspelite.bg's website (in Bulgarian).
Donation: 1000 BGN / 512 EUR / 620 USD
9. NGO.bg’s Internship Program. The information portal for non-profits in Bulgaria was created in 2010. It contains the richest database of active civil organizations (close to 10 000 NGOs from around the country) as well as a comprehensive news section that is updated daily. The internship program allows students to learn about the activities of non-profits through first-hand experience, to identify socially significant causes, to become part of them, to promote them and to adopt public commitment as an integral part of their personal and professional growth.
This is an interesting case. The campaign did not receive many donations. The primary one was done in 2015 and was worth about 150 BGN at the time (79 EUR). Due to the bitcoin price increase, the value of the donated amount increased significantly. The final amount that was sent to the beneficiary was 7056 BGN, a 4600% increase.
Donation: 7056 BGN / 3608 EUR / 4376 USD
10. Burgas Municipality After the Flood. In 2017, Burgas municipality suffered a devastating flood that resulted in loss of life and property. The funds generated by this campaign were originally going to be distributed through the Bulgarian Red Cross (BRC). However, due to unresponsiveness on the part of the BRC and the inefficiencies plaguing the organization, the funds were used for the purchase of 7 washing machines and 2 microwaves, sent to the families most affected by the flood. The items are being delivered to the village of Polski Izvor, in the Kemeno municipality.
Donation: 3416 BGN / 1747 EUR / 2118 USD
Total amount of donations: 25 000 BGN / 12 780 EUR / 15 500 USD
Finally, due to the fee increase in the Bitcoin network, we are planning to introduce other types of cryptocurrency that could be used for donations. Actually, this can already be done on our general bitcoin address through ShapeShift. Hopefully, in 2018 we will be able to generate the funds required for the system upgrade (Hey, Pineapple fund!). For now, we will add the other donation options in the form of QR codes available on the campaign page. Our new initiative, in partnership with SOS Children’s Villages Bulgaria (part of a large international family), is an example of the approach.
Again, thank you all for the support! We can assure you that thanks to your donations we will continue making a difference and spreading the positive message of cryptocurrencies locally and internationally!
Send a bit of hope!
Best regards and much love,
The BitHope Foundation Team