With the emergence and popularity of cryptocurrencies in the last few years, people are intrigued to say the least, many of whom have profited and lost money, but the exploration into charitable giving has begun by many projects. Bringing together the third sector and the technology world is never going to be an easy task, mixing one scene that is predominantly profit based with one that is non-profit some may say is a crazy thing to get involved in. But if someone does not try to bring philanthropy to the new age, the divide is going to get bigger and bigger.
‘The global financial system is slow, expensive and opaque — it simply wasn’t built to meet the needs of the aid industry.’ Is the opening quote on the Disberse website, Disberse is one project that is enabling donors and aid organisations to send and receive funds more efficiently, these projects are already looking towards solving many problems in the charity world, one of which is transparency. Lack of transparency aids another problem which is lack of trust which is growing by the day, the main setback to this is a decrease in wilful giving by the public. Running a charity is difficult, and the organised events, donations, and grants can only contribute so far to cash flow, which is what a charity needs, a regular cash flow solves many problems, as all charities on top of giving and helping have bills to pay too.
This brings us into what are people doing to solve this. Charities at the moment are trying so hard to get people to set up a regular payment schedule, a direct debit Is a way of trying to keep a regular balance so planning can take place. We have all seen ‘street sellers’ trying to coax you to talk to them as you pass on a Saturday morning, telling you the great things charities are doing helping those in need. This conversation (if you actually stop, most of us walk past) then moves onto a request for a regular direct debit to be set up, bank details passed over on the street, and you then become a regular donator to your favourite charity. Or do you?
Many people criticise this way of marketing a charity, some feel its pushy, some feel it is annoying, you inevitably end up getting phone call after phone call to up your donation after originally agreeing to £5. That is the foot in the door for many of the canvassers on the street, who a lot of the public complain are paid canvassers and are not volunteers, maybe even on commission — hence the overbearing tactics they may use. Can digital currencies and the scene around it hold a solution to this? Maybe! A recent project called Tour de Crypto, embraced by two guys Jason Berlin & Jovel Velasquez, ran the first annual tour in 2018 which brought cryptocurrency awareness to charities, whilst raising money for HAWK which is a non-profit working to end domestic violence.
Rapids is another emerging project which Jason Berlin from Tour de Crypto is an executive advisor along with Blake Rizzo a blockchain attorney and charity advisor. The method statement given by rapids is to transact through online channels using social media widgets, combining the technology and social media platforms to bring a simpler way of utilising online transactions. With Rapids being embedded in social media platforms payments can be made directly to friends, family, colleagues, companies and yes you guessed it charities, this can then be utilised into QR readers on the street, no more giving over bank details, it can be a simple 5 second interaction with a one off donation and data given to an online wallet that you can re-donate as and when with a simple click.
Now we are going to get a little bit technical but stick with it because this is where the link from projects like rapids can bring you to the charitable giving that will make you feel better and more secure about what you are doing.
Yellow and Blue (YaB) is an emerging soon to be registered charity in the UK that is aiming to restructure the way charitable giving works, and just one of the things it is looking at is to bring a way of incorporating donations in digital currencies to embrace the potential income that could really help, the potential in donating through digital currencies is huge, and it’s only going to grow more and more. But not only in donation terms but through the benefits of passive income, from proof of stake projects such as rapids. There is a whole lot more YaB are doing, but the emergence of a project such as rapids with a team behind them that are charitably aligned, and with registered charities like YaB now emerging, that bridge between digital currencies and Philanthropy is growing smaller by the day.
Proof of stake, is the terminology used to create the consensus on distributed ledgers using the POS algorithm (told you, a little bit technical but stay with it for now) so an investment in a project using a proof of stake methodology you are staking your investment which then means you get rewarded for the ‘mining process’ by being give more ‘free’ tokens with attached value. Bringing all this, a PoS algorithm, a social media widget or fast payment scheme, and registered charities embracing the technology together would therefore create a whole new avenue to channel into and create a way of giving from the rewards created by the method used in PoS projects such as projects like rapids.
So, do I think cryptocurrencies can improve charitable giving? yes completely, but not only the digital currencies, i think the technology behind them can open up so many avenues to the user experience, simplify the process add integrity and transparency, and maybe even some fun too. Enjin is a gaming platform run on the blockchain and is really closing the gap between mainstream gaming and the fintech world, creating items with value in many games launching. Whilst this in itself is very exciting, a partnership with SENS foundation, a charity working on age related diseases, Enjin is set to integrate the platform to reward donors with blockchain-based collectibles, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) which means that for every donation the donor receives a collectible item representing the donation. This creates a transparency with the donation on the Ethereum network, plus the token resonates with the donor as a collectible, and from a user experience may increase the intent to help good causes.
It will certainly be an interesting journey to see how the both sectors continue to collaborate to bring good to society, increase transparency, and increase consumer interaction with the third sector.