From South America to Africa, cryptographic charity projects are revolutionizing donations
The charitable sector is notoriously slow to react to transformative technologies. In the 2019 Charity Digital Skills Report survey, only 12% of UK charities regard technological innovations as the possibility of artificial intelligence changing their charity. And in the 2019 Global NGO Technology Report, only 34% of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) worldwide have admitted to understanding blockchain, the lowest statistic related to emerging technologies like the Internet of Things and augmented reality.
Among small charities, however, a revolution is brewing. Spurred on by challenges related to infrastructure and in dealing with authoritarian states, some forward-looking organizations are already using cryptocurrency to receive donations. They hope that the big charities will also join.
Feeding Venezuela with Bitcoin Cash
With one of the highest inflation rates in the world, Venezuela is experiencing a time of deep political and economic crisis, making it extremely difficult to live. In February 2018, Venezuelan brothers José and Gabriel – both longtime crypto users – discovered Bitcoin Cash (BCH), a fork of Bitcoin. After José was questioned online by friends about the situation in Venezuela, they decided to set up EatBCH, a nonprofit food industry that uses Bitcoin Cash.
They started asking for charitable donations on Twitter and provided a BCH address to receive the money. The BCH was then sold, used to buy food from local vendors. The two posted photos – mostly of children they were given food – as proof that the money was being used for this purpose. To date, EatBCH has received thousands of donations and purchased hundreds of meals. They operate at 23 locations in Venezuela and have just been launched in South Sudan.
The initiative is also being noticed by companies that wish to donate to charities. American food startup Crazy Calm, which sells CBD instant coffee, donated $ 5, per order, to EatBCH. “It is a transparent and efficient charity,” said co-founder Matt Aaron. “We love that EatBCH is using the power of cryptocurrency, money without borders, to feed people in need.”
Our customers love the fact that they can see, through the block explorer, a link to the donation made on their behalf.
Changing the crypto industry
Other projects looking to rock the charitable sector using cryptocurrency are starting to gain momentum. One of these projects is Giveth, which aims to redesign charitable donations, creating an open source platform, totally free, built on the Ethereum blockchain.
“Unlike most things, with crypto you can get financial privacy, but you also get transparency, and you get it by default,” he said to Griff Green, founder of Giveth.
However, there is a challenge for crypto projects that seek to reshape the charitable sector:
“The biggest problem that people face is that nobody in the charity space uses crypto; only nerds use crypto, ”he said.
Basic funding for Kenya
An organization committed to creating crypto economies is Grassroots Economics, a nonprofit foundation based in Kenya. Grassroots Economics works to provide vulnerable communities with alternative currencies, via blockchain and mobile payments, so they can take an active role in their own economies.
Grassroots Economics founder, physicist and economist Will Ruddick, moved from California to Kenya more than a decade ago. He told Decrypt that Africa’s charitable sector currently spends a lot of money with little effect.
“The charity sector has a huge impact problem, which has led to money transfers or cash assistance and vouchers as an emerging modality, essentially pouring money into vulnerable communities,” he said. “This opened up the charitable sector to faster and more efficient forms of digital vouchers, using crypto.”
Grassroots Economics recently entered into a partnership with the Red Cross and digital wallet provider Sempo, to create Community Inclusion Coins (CICs). They allow communities to develop their own exchange media, which can connect to other communities in regional markets and provide a gateway to national currencies, via a push-button telephone. About 1,000 companies adopted them in a single week in Kenya.
“For me, for the nonprofit sector and for financing public goods in general, cryptocurrency is the bee’s knee,” said Green.