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UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund Announced

Is This the Future of Philanthropy?

The United Nation’s charity for children, UNICEF, has announced that it would be accepting donations in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. According to the announcement, the non-profit will store donations received in this format in a newly launched Crypto Fund before distributing it in the same format. The United Nations, which receives as much as $15 billion in donations every year, sees this as a way to show financial innovation. It believes that the digital evolution of finance could lead to improved transparency and may even lead to an increase in donations.

UNICEF has already received a commitment for a donation from the Ethereum Foundation and plans to use this as funding for the Innovation Fund, which is used to connect schools around the globe to the internet. The UN Innovation Network (UNIN) was established in 2015 by UNICEF and other UN organizations to research the potential benefits and drawbacks of emerging technologies such as blockchain and digital currencies.

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Geared for Digital Innovation

According to Christina Lomazzo, UNICEF’s head of blockchain, this shift in trajectory is part of the organization’s plans to get ready for a digital future in which digital assets are used, whether it is bitcoin, ether, or a government-backed digital currency. The UNICEF Crypto Fund initiative was launched to help the organization prepare to onboard digital assets. UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore stated in a press release: “If digital economies and currencies have the potential to shape the lives of coming generations, it is important that we explore the opportunities they offer.”

Thus far, UNICEF in four countries have signed agreements with the Switzerland-based Ethereum Foundation: the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and France. Of these countries, France is the most mature when it comes to cryptocurrency. The country already began exploring it as a new way to accept donations in January 2018.

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Crypto Is Not a New Trend in the Charity Sphere

UNICEF is not the only pro-innovation organization to begin accepting cryptocurrency donations. The United Kingdom Royal National Lifeboat Institution was arguably the first major charity to accept cryptocurrency when they began welcoming crypto donations in 2014. Fidelity Charitable in the US began accepting crypto donations in 2015 and has raised over $100 million in digital currencies.

Is Crypto the Currency of the Future?

In recent years, cryptocurrencies have exploded across the globe, even Facebook has its own version known as the Libra. Charitable organizations have shown great interest in them, and currencies tailored to philanthropy like Pinkcoin and AidCoin have been launched. But despite the hype, cryptocurrencies are decentralized and are not regulated by government authorities. This has caused worldwide criticism that has been fueled by cryptocurrency’s notoriously volatile pricing and reputation for being linked to criminal activity. As bitcoin continues to struggle to change its reputation from being a currency for criminals to something more reputable, UNICEF and other organizations are taking a giant leap of faith. Only time will tell whether their efforts will be met with success.

Could Cryptocurrency and Fintech Be Big Donors in 2018?

The rise (and fall, and rise again, and fall again!) of cryptocurrencies has been making the news since late in 2017, but with more and more fintech companies making headlines and significant profits, could we be seeing the rise of the cryptocurrency philanthropists in 2018?
Could crypto-donors be the next big thing in philanthropy?

Crypto Startup Ripple Donates $29 Million

Ripple, the company behind the XRP digital asset recently donated $29 million of its proprietary currency to funding programs for public schools. In a statement, Ripple noted that this was the largest cryptocurrency donation to a single charity. The charity, DonorsChoose.org is a platform where educators can list classroom projects and programs that require funding. Ripple was able to fulfill thousands of individual educator requests via the non-profit organization and the donation will be utilized to purchase classroom equipment and materials for over 28,000 teachers in 50 states.

The request to Ripple was sent by Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org who noted, “To my own shock, they said yes. It was mind-blowing that it would be the largest donation of cryptocurrency.”

This may have been the first crypto-donation on this scale, but it certainly won’t be the last from Ripple, which noted that this donation was part of an effort to formalize a broader social outreach program.

Pineapple Fund – Bitcoin Philanthropy

While Ripple may be the largest donor to a single charity, back in December 2017, an anonymous donor started a non-profit organization called the Pineapple Fund. Since December, the fund has given away over 5,000 bitcoin (BTC) which equates to around $86 million. To date, $55 million has been disbursed to over 60 non-profits and charities like The Water Project, charity:water, ACLU, Sens Research Foundation and Hearts & Homes for Refugees.

Non-Profits Start Accepting Cryptocurrency

There are a lot of charities that have not considered the value of accepting donations in digital currencies, but the ones that do have seen a significant increase in giving over the last year. Fidelity Charitable started accepting crypto-donations in 2015 and though it started off slowly, in 2017 alone, the charity received over $69 million in cryptocurrency from 169 donors. The growth in crypto-donations via bitcoin and ether, has been over 140% faster than any other type of donation to the organization. United Way, which is one of the world’s largest privately held charitable organizations, started accepting bitcoin to its Innovation Fund which helps mobilize resources in technology projects.

Fintech Companies – Helping Non-Profits Save Money

Fintech, the technology that helps consumers pay for goods, manage investments and receive loans, is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and making sure that non-profits are able to take advantage of donations via digital assets has been spearheaded by fintech companies like Coinbase and BitGive. Coinbase waives all fees for 501(c) non-profit organizations that accept philanthropic donations using bitcoin on the Coinbase merchant services platform. It’s an important step taken by one of the world’s largest fintech companies that can save a charitable organization a lot of money. Overhead costs on transaction fees are often crippling for smaller non-profits.
Despite the fluctuation (often not that different to regular currencies), digital currencies are here to stay. The rise of cryptocurrency companies and the explosion of the fintech industry means only good things for philanthropy in 2018.