It is an apparent thing that many people and governments are skeptical about the use of Bitcoin, and with good reasons, too. Some unpleasant incidents have been associated with the use of the digital currency in the past. It may then be forgiven when people nurse doubt about usefulness of Bitcoin. However, the rising use of the crypto currency for humanitarian purposes is often overlooked because of such stance.
The Silk Road scandal is one of the incidents that have created room for misgivings about Bitcoin. The online, anonymous marketplace was allegedly a vehicle for sale of illegal drugs before it was eventually shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2013. The agency also seized several hundred thousands of the crypto currency from the account of Ross William Ulbricht, who was supposed to be the founder of the site and known by the pseudonym, “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
Concerns about security and existence of illegal activities are among the reasons why governments are worried about the use of Bitcoins. Digital currency confers some degree of anonymity on users and the fear is that this anonymity could be abused. However, too much focus is being placed on possible illegal uses of crypto currencies, and less on their use for good purposes.
Non-Profits Start Accepting Bitcoin
There are several humanitarian organizations now that make use of Bitcoins, reducing incidents such as the Silk Road scandal to nothing more than a distraction. One of such organizations is TentEd in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The project is aimed at helping refugee children in the region, which plays host to hundreds of thousands people fleeing from the ISIS. Bitcoin donations create a rapid means of finance for important assignments. TentEd provides books, school uniforms, shoes and other needs, including transportation, for refugee children.
TentEd is not the only non-profit that has started accepting Bitcoins. The charity organization Save the Children also recently revealed that it has established a working partnership with digital currency payment processor BitPay to enable it accept donations in Bitcoin. In a similar development, the American Red Cross has announced that it would start accepting Bitcoin donations through the same payment processor.
United Way Worldwide, which claims to be the world’s biggest private-held non-profit organization, announced in September that it has started accepting Bitcoin donations with support from payment processor Coinbase. The U.S non-profit raises over $5 billion every year in donations, with partners including Exxon Mobil, General Electric and the National Football League (NFL).
Now, these are only a handful of non-profit organizations already accepting Bitcoins. There are also other organizations working to promote acceptance of Bitcoin in different countries around the world, including Germany, the UK, Sweden, Russia, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.
Should Your Non-Profit Follow Suit?
In spite of the increasing acceptance of Bitcoin by some non-profits, some others are still rather reluctant and tentative — asking whether such a decision is a good one. Perhaps, you are also considering if it is a good idea for your non-profit to follow the same path. You may feel like brushing aside the idea probably because you are already able to receive donations in different national currencies. But it worth noting that the number of people holding Bitcoin is increasing and these will certainly want to use them for transactions at one point in time or the other. If one of such eventually decides to donate to your non-profit with his crypto currency wallet and finds you do not accept it, then that could possibly translate into a lost donation. It is probably obvious then why more non-profits are accepting Bitcoin donations.
It is especially worthy of consideration for your non-profit to start accepting Bitcoin donations, if a sizeable number of your donors are tech enthusiasts. Most of the people into crypto currencies for now are tech-savvy individuals, although more of those who are less tech-savvy are also picking interest in digital currency.
It is very easy to start accepting Bitcoin donations. BitPay and Coinbase are two top Bitcoin payment processors who you can sign up with and start accepting Bitcoins. A donation page is set up on your website with links and logos informing donors that you accept Bitcoins. Processing fees are very low. Coinbase further announced in July that it would waive all fees for registered non-profits that accept Bitcoin donations via its merchant tools. The payment processor had said before then that it would waive processing fees on the first $1 million received by non-profits in Bitcoin donations, while subsequent ones would attract a 1% fee.
Already, success stories have started to emerge from non-profits accepting Bitcoin donations. One of such is Peter Chasse’s Water Project, the promotion of which started in 2013. The project is aimed at providing potable water in parts of Africa. Mr. Chasse set up an account with the payment processor Coinbase in January to enable it accept Bitcoin donations. By July, more than $30,000 had been raised in Bitcoin donations, with these converted into dollars immediately to meet project needs.
From the time it started accepting Bitcoin donations in February to July this year, the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas was able to raise Bitcoin donations worth about $1,000. BitGive Foundation founder and executive director Connie Gallippi said more than 1,000 Bitcoins — equivalent to approximately $1 million — were raised for over 30 charities in November, with plans in the pipeline for a large Bitcoin endowment.
Many non-profit organizations are still rather reluctant about accepting Bitcoin donations not only because of past negative stories about the digital currency. There is also concern about irregular swings in the value of the crypto currency. This should not really be much of an issue since payment processors such as Coinbase enable non-profits to immediately convert Bitcoins into cash.
Humanitarian organizations need not be overly daunted about accepting Bitcoin donations. It makes actualization of charitable aims faster by providing extra means of funds for projects. TentEd and The Water Project are just two of the humanitarian projects that have shown what may be attained when these extra Bitcoin donations are brought in. Wide-scale adoption of the crypto currency for charitable causes might just help to improve the negative views of many about it.