Bitcoin for Charity: The Case of

Bitcoin for Charity: The Case of
Published on: 12.08.2015
In the past months we have seen more and more businesses starting to accept bitcoins as means of payment. Many well-known international companies have opened their doors to this new type of financial asset. Some of the more noteworthy players that have embraced bitcoin include Microsoft, Dell, Dish Network, Expedia, Time Inc. and NewEgg.

This trend is also evident in Bulgaria, where more than 50 businesses from different spheres are now accepting bitcoins as payment for goods and services. More information about them can be found by visiting the webpage.

Moreover, bitcoins and Bitcoin technology is being implemented by a number of big players from the financial world. The NASDAQ stock exchange is currently working together with Chain Inc. in order to implement the blockchain tech into the exchange’s clearing and settlement system. IBM is also looking at the possible applications of the technology and has recently unveiled its proof of concept for ADEPT, a system developed in partnership with Samsung that uses elements of bitcoin’s underlying design to build a distributed network of devices – a decentralized Internet of Things.

The examples of Bitcoin (the protocol) and bitcoin (the currency) gradual spreading to all areas of life and international commerce are numerous.

But there is one sphere that is still quite quiet – the charity one.

Currently there are a number of bitcoin-accepting charities, including the WikiMedia foundation, the Mozilla Foundation, the American Red Cross and, of course, the first bitcoin charity – BitGive Foundation. ChangeTip is worthy of mention here, since it has single-handedly created a culture of “liking” something by sending its author/owner a small amount of bitcoins. Bitcoin is great for micro payments and ChangeTip has recognized that.  

Why has bitcoin adoption among charities been slower than in the commercial sphere? We believe there are several reasons for that:
1. Large charities have established funding channels and require serious amounts of funding
2. The fact that a charity is accepting bitcoins is not well-known
3. Many people are still unaware of bitcoin
4. Charity founders are unaware of bitcoin and how to use it
5. Information about Bitcoin/bitcoin in the popular media is usually negative

Large and more well-known charities have established themselves as the beneficiaries of enormous amounts of funds, the WWF having reported a spending of $ 250 mln. for 2014. Perhaps their reasoning is that there is not much reason for these types of organizations to add bitcoin as a donation option since the contributions coming in that form will not be significant in relation to the fiat proceeds. Moreover, bitcoin may create problems related to the identification of sources of funding, and although there are a number of solutions, it is too much of a hassle. In other words – you can keep your change. One notable exception here is Greenpeace who have stated accepting the cryptocurrency in September last year.

Charities such as the WWF and UNICEF have enlarged their administrations and have thus increased the costs of their operations. The impact of their initiatives has also increased, although in absolute terms rather than in comparison with their size. They have thus started to be dependent on large amounts of funds to continue their operations and have been accused of inefficient spending of the donations they have received. A few thousand dollars in bitcoins apparently does not mean much to these heavy-weight NGO players.

On the other hand, if your charity starts accepting bitcoins – who will know and will they care? If you are a titan charity with world-known brand – you have the channels and resources to make everyone know about your actions – the shotgun approach. However, if you are a small local charity it will much harder to reach the relevant audience and actually have a chance of receiving some bitcoins.

Moreover, even if you receive some bitcoins – what do you do with them? BitPay provides a relatively easy solution to the problem of “how the hell do I use bitcoins”, but putting a QR code on the website of your charity or business, does not mean much, especially in the current environment of low awareness regarding bitcoin. It may not mean much also because business owners or charity heads may not even know about BitPay or are unwilling to understand how it works.

If you stop 10 people on the street and tell them that you accept bitcoin, it is highly possible that they will think that you are either crazy or plain dumb. Even if they have heard of the first cryptocurrency, it is most probably related to a big scam that has reached the popular media (cough, Mt GOX). 

How do we envision our role?

The BitHope Foundation’s mission is to promote the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies in the best possible way – by stressing on their real-world usage for the improvement of the environment in which we live in. 
How are we going to achieve it?

You may be shocked to find out that there are a very large number of charities apart from UNICEF and WWF that exist and help bring a real positive change in the world. Most of them are struggling with their finances and are composed of believers who are devoted to their work and are not in “for the money”. We want to help precisely them. 

Moreover, most of the time they do not need serious funding. Hey, they will not stop the melting of the polar icecaps, but they can help 10 children have better lives, or help 20 future mothers get tested for diseases that can endanger their lives and those of their unborn children. This is tangible change and it can be achieved with even less than the “change” of the bigger non-profits.

Bitcoin is perfect for this – donors can send donations of around 1-5 dollars from any point of the world, with no or small transaction fees, directly to the BTC address of their campaign of choice, managed in one of the most secure ways by the BitHope Foundation.

Moreover, the platform is a “one-stop-shop” solution to the visibility issue. The website will be promoted in Bitcoin-specific channels that we are well aware of and will help these small NGOs receive the little funding they need in order to be more successful in doing good. Charities receive the funds in the form they prefer – bitcoins, euro or Bulgarian leva – they do not need to worry about exchanging. 

The success of our work will not only help them, but it will help Bitcoin as well. When news that a small charity was able to fund an initiative thanks to bitcoin and the Bitcoin community, people’s perception of the cryptocurrency will change. We will make sure to popularize success stories in the media.

When it comes to the donors, has much to offer. First and foremost we strive to be as transparent as possible and not only because the laws demand it. We have nothing to hide. We will make sure that each bit that you send us is spent in accordance with your wishes and will provide you detailed information about it. Second, we provide you with a variety of different small-scale campaigns that you can send some bitcoins to. We have even established an “External” category that includes initiatives that we are only promoting, with no financial incentive to speak of. Third, we provide you with the opportunity to add your name or your company’s name to the list of our donors and thus show your friends and colleagues that you have used cryptocurrency to do good. And fourth, we can provide those from you that are citizens of the EU a certificate for your donation, which you can use to reduce your taxes. This is subject to the laws in your home country and whether they accept such certificates from foreign countries (although in English). You can contact us and we can try to find a workable solution together.

Bitcoin is an amazing technology that will change many or all aspects of the world we live in. The BitHope Foundation is here to support this process, one small charity campaign at a time.

“Send a bit of hope!”