Can blockchain technology tackle the growing problems of fundraising and the lack of transparency in the nonprofit sector?

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Background

The nonprofit sector is worth an estimated $2 trillion globally. In the United States alone, the nonprofit sector contributes an estimated $905.9 billion to the US economy.

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Unfortunately, recent headlines have seen the sector stumble between corruption scandals, gross inefficiencies, false expenses and misuse of funds such as the $187 million misappropriation to cancer charities by James T. Reynolds. Recent high-profile scandals include donors of the Helpers Community Inc. raising concerns regarding the misuse of donations. In other cases, donors are mystified at the lack of results, like in the case of the Red Cross’ failure to enable recovery in Haiti despite receiving $500 million in donations following the 2010 earthquake.

There have been a justifiable continuous decline in trust on the part of potential donors. According to Essential Research, 35% of US citizens have little or no trust in charitable institutions. Similarly, in the UK, figures are not promising, with trust in charities falling from 6.7 out of 10 in 2014 to 5.7 in 2015, with 33% of those polled explaining that the primary reason for their reduction in donations stemmed from the impact of recent scandals on charities’ reputations. Donor’s trust in charities has been declining2 steadily. In a 2015 poll, more than a third of those interviewed did not trust charities and nonprofits. The decrease in trust is having an alarming consequence on donations. In the US, 52% of charities are not adequately funded and cannot match the distressing increase in demand for their services.

The Solution

Based on arising scandals, it is unsurprising that donors and society generally have become skeptical towards the nonprofit sphere. Therefore, to sustain this sphere, there is a need to implement a viable solution that has the potential to evolve the sphere. It is this solution that Aid Lion Network will provide with the introduction of the Lion Coin. With the Blockchain-powered smart contracts and the adoption of cryptocurrencies, Aid Lion aims to provide transparency, enable efficiency and cut costs. In addition, incorporating this will likely lead to a tax deduction.

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  1. Transparency: ​If some KPIs or other encoded conditions aren’t implemented, smart contracts make it possible for donors to get back their donations or to redirect them towards more worthy or necessary causes or projects. There is a case of the Red Cross raising US$500 million in 2010 to build 130,000 homes in Haiti, but only 6 homes were eventually built. With effective transparency, such a case would have been avoided.
  2. Efficiency: ​The distributed ledger technology (blockchain) makes it possible for donors to track how their cryptocurrencies are being used by their chosen charities. Records on the blockchain can be not erasable, thereby providing traceable accountability and showing the flow of any coin within the system. Nonprofits benefit from the blockchain as they can use it to manage resources, lessen overheads, streamline their supply chain, and waste fewer resources.
  3. Lower costs: ​Traditional donations involve the movement of money through a number of middlemen, including government bodies and financial establishments, and fees (approximately 3%) are charged by credit or debit card as well as by clearing houses. However, blockchain transforms this unnecessary chain of donations as the coins provided directly to the charities without any middleman interference and at a lesser cost.
  4. Tax Deduction:​ Despite the unavailability of formal guidance, the IRS tends to see virtual currencies as noncash assets. As a result, they are qualified to be seen as long-term capital gain property. Moreover, unlike traditional donations of over US$5,000, which require a qualified appraisal, blockchain donations are exempted since they are transparently and publicly traded.

Charities can benefit greatly from the blockchain technology as it provides increased transparency and traceability of donations, which will help to seal the trust of donors and encourage them to donate for future causes or projects.

Despite the clear benefits of transparency and the potential of cryptocurrency, nonprofits hardly have what it takes to embark on innovative blockchain-led technology initiatives. This is mainly because they are focused on their core business: helping the recipients of charity donations. Therefore, they need a platform, which will introduce them easily to the technology and its benefits. Obviously, there are numerous benefits of applying the distributed ledger technology to the nonprofit sphere. One of the major benefits is that donors will have more trust in the sector and, consequently, will be more willing to donate.

To ensure total transparency and traceability in the nonprofit sector, Lion Coin, an ERC20 token based on the Ethereum blockchain, is introduced with the aim of becoming the best method for donations and fundraising using the Lion Chain Network. The adoption of cryptocurrencies and the use of Lion Coin will transform the future of donations and fundraising.

The Lion Chain Network

Lion Chain Network is a trustworthy platform based on the Ethereum blockchain and powered by the Lion Coin tokens. The platform provides an ecosystem of services that incorporates an easy-to-use interface. It is designed to connect the nonprofit community as well as promote total transparency and traceability of donations. Donors, charities, causes, projects and many more can now stand a chance to mutually benefit greatly from the services provided by the Lion Chain Network.

To ensure the simplification of the donation process and an increase in the adoption of Lion Coin, Lion Chain will integrate several services in its platform. These services include an internal exchange for converting accepted cryptocurrencies into Lion Coin, a built-in storehouse for storing donations, an explorer for easy tracking of donations and templates of smart contracts for running fundraising campaigns. All these services are merged in a way that makes it easy for charities and donors to interact easily and effectively with the platform.

Register and verify identity

To be able to receive donations, registration and verification are necessary for charities and causes to create an account on the Lion Chain Network. Matching a distinctive public address to a particular charity or cause makes it easier to track the donations and check how funds are used.

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Once registered and verified, charities and causes will be able to share a lot of information with donors through a public profile. Such information includes general information about the charity or cause, official address, donations received, use of funds, and updates on any projects. Lion Chain will also provide a private dashboard. This will be used to manage all information and activities, view donations received and transactions made on-chain, upload off-chain receipts, manage personal info and connect with other users on the platform.

With options for different preferred privacy settings, donors may choose to register anonymously or with different levels of their personal data. With their individual private dashboard, donors manage their personal data, view info about charitable donations and request receipts for the sake of tax deduction.

Convert and donate to your charity of choice

The platform allows donors to convert cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Dash, Ether, Litecoin and ERC20 tokens into Lion Coin. This helps them to donate an increasing number of cryptocurrencies, which can also be converted to fiat currencies in the future.

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Lion Pay, a payment gateway/embeddable widget, helps charities registered on the Lion Chain Network to accept donations in different cryptocurrencies directly on their websites and mobile applications. The accepted cryptocurrencies are then instantly converted into Lion Coin. This way, charities will be able to manage all donations received within a single storehouse. In addition, there will be room for transparency and traceability.

Lion Chain ensures that a public address and other data (based on the jurisdiction) match a registered charity, as well as provide a compliant tax-deductible receipt both for donations made directly through Lion Chain Network and Lion Pay.

Track donations

The Lion Chain Network powered by Ethereum blockchain tracks Lion Coin transactions, ensures total transparency on the use of the donated funds and provides basic information (for instance, donation amount, timestamp, donor and recipient address and name, if public). An advanced tracking system called Donation Tracking System (DTS) will be developed by the team. For instance, the “send and notify” option incorporated into the platform storehouse will help donors to receive notifications for every step of the donation process.

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Both Lion Coin and Lion Chain ensure a solid and simple solution to the transparency problem in the nonprofit sphere. Nevertheless, traceability of the whole donation process will be based on the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, Lion Chain will still track donations after Lion Coin has been converted into FIAT currencies because of the integration with the charity’s bank APIs5. Aid Lion plans to work together with companies like TrueLayer so as to connect to the bank data, validate accounts, and access transactions in real-time. This way, the platform will be able to provide a clear image of how charities spend the funds received in Lion Coin.

The Lion Chain Network allows charities to be able to manually input off-chain data on the Ethereum blockchain. For instance, if a charity claims that the funds received will be used for medical supplies, such a charity will be prompted to upload the receipts for the supplies and shipping within the stipulated time frame, and this information will be stored on-chain.

Any information automatically or manually recorded on the blockchain becomes immutable, tamper-proof and publicly accessible via an open explorer. Therefore, transparency is guaranteed and public auditing is possible even for non-users of Lion Chain Network.

Written by

Minimalist

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