In August 2019, I had the pleasure of attending the Blockchance Conference in the picturesque city of Hamburg in northern Germany, hosted at the historic Chamber of Commerce. Just a short walk from the iconic Rathaus and Alsten Fountain, hundreds of attendees were treated to an opening performance from BitArt, who use the medium of dance and song to explain the benefits of Blockchain, which perfectly set the scene for a unique and compelling two days of talks and networking. The conference featured over 70 speakers and 20 exhibitors from companies such as Consensys, Ripple and Deloitte, who discussed a broad range of topics, from the regulatory concerns surrounding Blockchain to the development of Blockchain solutions in the areas of shipping and trade.
Blockchain for Social Good
I want to use this post to reflect on one of the most compelling topics discussed, that being Blockchain for Social Good. The conference featured a number of inspiring talks from the world of sustainable development, most notably Marc Buckley of the World Economic Forum and Dr Lukas Repa of the European Commission, who clearly outlined how Blockchain could be used to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To meet goals such as ‘No Poverty’ and ‘Reduced Inequalities’, a concerted philanthropic effort is required, made possible through charitable organisations and NGOs. Showcased at the Blockchance Conference, by the fantastic BitArt team, the application of Blockchain by charities to improve transparency of their activities for donors is to me one of the most compelling use cases for the technology in the realm of Blockchain for Social Good. It struck me that despite this being a fascinating and achievable use case that could bring back a lot of the lost trust in large charities, it was a use case that simply isn’t being talked about enough. Because of this, I wish to focus the rest of the blog post to talk further regarding this topic.
How Traditional Charities Discourage Donations
Traditional charities, of which there are nearly 200,000 in the UK alone , typically require a proportion of the donation money to go towards administrative and marketing costs, but often they keep this information under wraps. According to a study by The Week , the most popular charities in the UK spend anything between 26.2% and 87.3% of their yearly income on charitable causes — an incredibly wide range that makes you question whether your money is being appropriately used. And even when most of the donation goes towards charitable causes, who’s to know exactly how each dollar is spent, and whether the money is being spent sensibly and effectively. When you donate money, you must trust that the charity will spend it effectively, with very few ways of being able to verify whether they actually do. This simply does not encourage people to donate — it’s no wonder that in the UK the total amount of charitable donations have been trending down over the past few years .
Can we have truly Transparent Philanthropy through Blockchain?
Blockchain builds a level of trust between the donor and the charity, by making the transactions public on the Blockchain. As such, the donor has the ability to track how their money is being spent, and in what ways it is making a difference. This gives the donor the power to choose charities that use their money the most effectively and sensibility, and encourages further donations due to the higher level of trust between the donor and the charities. In addition, Blockchain reduces the costs associated with the transaction of payments internationally, which could drastically reduce the administrative costs of charities which is often rightly criticised.
The Binance Charity
Amongst the Blockchain-based charities that received special recognition at the conference was the Binance Charity, The Giving Block, Blockchain for Humanity and slavefreetrade. I particularly want to focus in on what the Binance Charity, led by Helen Hai of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), is doing. The charity, built on the belief that donors deserve to know where their money goes, has already been hugely successful, with over $5 million already donated from over 1200 donors.
So how exactly does the Binance Charity ensure that donors know how their money is being spent?
The key to how the Binance Charity ensures transparent philanthropy is through the use of cryptocurrency wallets, opened for all end beneficiaries and suppliers, such that their use of the money is publicly recorded on the Blockchain. For each project, the Binance Charity displays on their website every single donation received and every allocation to the end beneficiaries.
What projects could I currently donate to?
At the time of writing this post, there’s a number of projects currently raising funding to give lunches to children at a number of different schools across some of the most impoverished countries of Africa. For example, Binance Lunch for Children — Nakigo Secondary School  has raised almost a third of their $46,884 fundraising goal that would support the purchase of school lunches for all students of the school for an academic year.
The Northern Blockchain Group hosts a number of Blockchain events across the North of the UK, attracting thousands of attendees each year. We’re really keen to raise the awareness of Blockchain-based charities, and are currently working on building a partnership with one of the aforementioned charities. Make sure to hit the follow on this publication to keep up to date with the progress we make in this area!
 — https://nfpsynergy.net/free-report/facts-and-figures-uk-charity-sector-2018
 — https://www.theweek.co.uk/fact-check/98581/fact-check-how-do-charities-spend-your-money
 — https://www.thirdsector.co.uk/number-people-giving-regularly-down-third-year-running/fundraising/article/1583822
 — https://www.binance.charity/binance-lunch-for-children-nakigo-secondary-school