Charities Seek Donations in Bitcoin
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Charities are often open to all sorts of donations, whether in money or in kind. Now they’re turning to a new source: donations of bitcoin.
Among the charities soliciting donations from bitcoin users are Save the Children, an aid agency that receives hundreds of millions of dollars in donations every year, American Red Cross and Greenpeace.
“There is a sense that this is growing in acceptance in the nonprofit sector,” says Ettore Rossetti, director, social media and digital marketing at Save the Children.
Bitcoin is a six-year-old virtual currency that can be traded on numerous exchanges or used in private transactions. It isn’t backed by a central bank. Instead, bitcoin is a decentralized payment system; there is a public ledger of all bitcoin balances, updated in real time by a network of independent computers called “miners” that help verify that the data in the system is accurate. More merchants—and now charities—are accepting bitcoin, in part because the transactions carry lower costs than credit- or debit-card payments.
Save the Children has been a beneficiary of bitcoin donations since fall 2013, when a devastating typhoon hit the Philippines, and has participated in bitcoin-giving campaigns since then. The charity works with BitPay, a company that processes the donations and converts the gifts to dollars. BitPay doesn’t charge a transaction fee for charities or donors, so the nonprofits get 100% of the proceeds.
“We want to remain contemporary and relevant to current and future generations,” says Mr. Rossetti. “We don’t only want to be your grandmother’s charity, we want to be your grandchild’s charity. One way to do that is to accept bitcoin.”