Bitcoin for charities

The Bitcoin technology has a lot to offer to the non-profit sector. This message permeated the Bitcoin in the Beltway conference. It doesn’t matter whether you’re feeding the homeless like Sean’s Outpost, building water wells through The Water Project, or even mapping the asteroids floating in our solar system with B612 Foundation, the Bitcoin community wants to give you money, and it will go out of its way to make sure you can accept it.

Using Bitcoin can be a challenge in itself, let alone using it in your business. However, there are many great services that take care of everything for you. For example, BitPay will accept Bitcoin payments and donations on your behalf, convert the money into your local currency of choice and deposit it into your account in a matter of days. Moreover, if you are a registered charity or a non-profit, they will do it for free, end-to-end. No setup fees, no transaction fees, no withdrawal fees, nothing. All one needs to do is set up with the service, put a widget or a QR code on one’s website and that’s it.

If even that sounds complicated or too much of a hassle for you as a charity, another organization by the name of Bitcoin 100 will gladly help you go through that process. Not only that, once you start accepting funds on your web page, they will give you $1000 equivalent in Bitcoin for your trouble. No strings attached. While this amount might pay one for the effort of setting everything up in the west, in developing countries that can be a noticeable contribution. And this is only a start…

The Bitcoin community loves to support charities in its space. The celebrity of Bitcoin non-profits is by far Sean’s Outpost, a homeless outreach from Pensacola. In their first year of operation (http://seansoutpost.com/2014/03/18/seans-outpost-birthday-1-year-in-review/) they fed over 60000 meals to the homeless, handed out 1000 blankets, got 9 people off the streets permanently, created a Satoshi Forest homeless sanctuary and many more. They raised about 733 Bitcoins in total for their cause and are going so strong they are planning on setting up new charters in USA and Canada. The message couldn’t be clearer - Bitcoiners love nonprofits.

Another important thing to remember, is that Bitcoin thrives against oppression. Women’s Annex Foundation is a charity aiming to bring digital literacy to women in Afganistan and other countries. While in the western world one can take access to banking for granted, it is a struggle in developing countries. Having to travel long distances to any bank, the danger of robbery when carrying a lot of money, or a woman not being able to open a bank account without their husbands consent is a reality for many people.

Bitcoin changes all of that. One can easily use Bitcoin with SMS through 37 Coins, or a number of online wallets on a smartphone. Transactions are cheap, Bitcoin does not discriminate against anyone and you can use it everywhere. The Bitcoin technology can not only help charities, it might be the only way for some people to receive money.
When you are talking about money, you also have to keep in mind how hard and expensive it is to send money to some places in the world. PayPal doesn’t support many countries (http://www.homebusinessmanuals.com/2013/02/list-of-paypal-unsupported-countries.html), like Haiti, Iran or Pakistan. Sending $100 to such places through Western Union can cost you $12, and the ratio gets worse with smaller amounts. With Bitcoin, no amount is too small. It is economically feasible to donate $1 or less to a charity half of world away, and you know they will receive that money instantly. A charity in a third world country can solicit direct donations from anyone on the Internet without having to rely on third parties or paying an arm and a leg for the privilege.

Lastly, Bitcoin protects the charities from fraudulent “donors” and chargebacks. You hear those stories every now and then where someone steals some credit card information and decides to be a “generous” Robin Hood and donate some of the money to a charity. A few weeks or months down the line that company might receive a massive chargeback on their account for the money they already spent since it came from a fraudulent source. Despite accepting the money in good faith, the charity suffers. Bitcoin donations are like cash - once they’re given, that’s it - there is no taking it back.

All in all, Bitcoin enthusiasts not only love charities, but they go out of their way to support them. The Bitcoin technology boosts existing charities and enables new nonprofits to form where they couldn’t before. So if you are donating to a charity, let them know about Bitcoin and why they should accept it. If you are a charity or a non-profit, give Bitcoin a go - it costs you nothing to try and who know how many people will shower you with their coins and affection.