In December 2017, an anonymous crypto investor named “Pine” created the Pineapple Fund as “an experiment in philanthropy with cryptocurrency.” Pine donated $55 million worth of bitcoin to 60 different charitable organizations — focused on everything from the environment and mental health to social justice and homelessness.
Charitable giving via crypto has become an increasingly popular choice for both individuals and organizations. Some of the world’s biggest charitable organizations — including the Red Cross and United Way — accept cryptocurrency.
Since 2018, GiveCrypto.org has been working to reduce poverty via direct community-based donations of cryptocurrency (Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong is a founder). In 2019, UNICEF announced that it had become the first U.N. Organization to hold and make transactions in cryptocurrency, via a designated Cryptocurrency Fund. As of April 6th, 2021 the UNICEF Cryptocurrency fund has received 2,267 ETH and eight bitcoin (worth over $5 million).
Being able to quickly and anonymously donate from any country in the world, without incurring high fees, is a technological innovation unique to crypto that is making donations more efficient, equitable, and easy.
Crypto is private
Crypto can help address privacy and data protection issues, which are increasingly relevant to donors. A 2021 survey by Give.org showed that a large majority of Americans of all ages have data-privacy concerns when it comes to philanthropy.
Donating crypto directly to an organization could better protect your personal information, and potentially result in more funds going to causes you care about.
Crypto can have tax advantages
Let’s say you bought $2,000 in bitcoin over a year ago. As of April 2021, the fair market value is now $5,500. You decide to donate the full amount to your favorite IRS-recognized charitable organization. Here are two ways your contribution could play out:
Sell bitcoin and donate in dollars: If you were to sell the bitcoin first and then donate dollars, you might incur a long-term capital gains tax of up to 20 percent (not accounting for additional Medicare surtax or state and local taxes) — which would be around $700.
Final donation given: Approximately $4,800.
Donate bitcoin directly: If you were to donate the bitcoin directly, your tax-deductible contribution could go much further. With a direct donation, you might not have to pay capital gains tax on the bitcoin.
Final donation received: Approximately $5,500.
Crypto donations can be cheaper for organizations to process
According to the 2020 Global Trends in Giving Report, 63 percent of donors worldwide prefer to donate online via debit or credit card. But given by card can reduce the actual donation organizations receive — because processing can fees range anywhere from 2.2 to 7.5 percent (according to Charity Navigator, a non-profit that rates online-donation processors)
How much of a difference might that make? Let’s say you wanted to donate $1,000.
Donate via credit card: the processing fees incurred by the organization could be as high as $75.
Final donation received: $925
Donate via crypto: the same donation made in bitcoin would incur a transaction fee of about $8.70 (calculated using the median transaction fee on April 6, 2021 according to CoinMetrics.io).
Final donation received: $991.28
Stablecoins can make crypto giving less volatile
Organizations looking to take advantage of the benefits of crypto without the volatility risk can also accept donations in USDC or similar stablecoins. USDC is a cryptocurrency that is fully backed and redeemable for US Dollars. Any organization that has Coinbase Commerce enabled is set up to accept USDC.
(If you’re an org looking to accept crypto you can set up a Coinbase Commerce account — within minutes, you’ll be able to accept donations in five different cryptocurrencies.)
Which nonprofits accept crypto?
Whether you’re looking to support initiatives around clean water, early-childhood education, or human rights, dozens of organizations are already set up to accept donations today in crypto. Here are a range of popular options:
Electronic Freedom Foundation: “Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.” Accepts: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum.
Freedom of the Press Foundation: “The organization works to preserve and strengthen First and Fourth Amendment rights guaranteed to the press through a variety of avenues, including the development of encryption tools, documentation of attacks on the press, training newsrooms on digital security practices, and advocating for the public’s right to know.” Accepts: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and ZCash.
GiveCrypto.org: In 2018, Coinbase co-founder Brian Armstrong founded GiveCrypto, a nonprofit that distributes cryptocurrency to people living in poverty. GiveCrypto has distributed over $300k of cryptocurrency to over 5,000 people in 13 different countries. Accepts: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and USDC via Coinbase Commerce.
Greenpeace: “Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.” Accepts: Bitcoin.
Internet Archive: “We began in 1996 by archiving the Internet itself, a medium that was just beginning to grow in use. Like newspapers, the content published on the web was ephemeral — but unlike newspapers, no one was saving it. Today we have 20+ years of web history accessible through the Wayback Machine and we work with 625+ library and other partners through our Archive-It program to identify important web pages.” Accepts: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, XRP, and ZCash.
Human Rights Foundation: “We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. HRF unites people in the common cause of defending human rights and promoting liberal democracy. Our mission is to ensure that freedom is both preserved and promoted around the world.” Accepts: Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Khan Academy: “Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. We tackle math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more. Our math missions guide learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps.” Accepts: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Ethereum.
Rainforest Foundation: “The Rainforest Foundation works on-the-ground to secure land rights for indigenous people. We strengthen indigenous land security and train indigenous communities to use technology to protect their forests. By investing directly in indigenous communities, we connect people who are deeply motivated to conserve their ancestral lands with the tools, training, and resources necessary to protect their rainforests.” Accepts: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
The Reagent Project: “At The Reagent Project, we aim to match excess scientific equipment and reagents languishing in labs across the U.S. with talented, under-resourced researchers who need those very items.” Accepts: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and USDC via Coinbase Commerce.
Red Cross: “The international Red Cross and Red Crescent network is the largest humanitarian network in the world with a presence and activities in almost every country. All Red Cross and Red Crescent activities have one central purpose: to help those who suffer, without discrimination, whether during conflict, in response to natural or man-made disasters, or due to conditions of chronic poverty.” Accepts: Bitcoin via Bitpay (note: Bitpay may charge a conversion fee).
Tor Project: “We, at the Tor Project, fight every day for everyone to have private access to an uncensored internet, and Tor has become the world’s strongest tool for privacy and freedom online. But Tor is more than just software. It is a labor of love produced by an international community of people devoted to human rights.” Accepts: Bitcoin, Augur, Dash, Litecoin, Monero, Stellar Lumen, ZCash, and Ethereum.
The Water Project: “The Water Project, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization unlocking human potential by providing reliable water projects to communities in sub-Saharan Africa who suffer needlessly from a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation.” Accepts: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and USDC via Coinbase Commerce.
United Way: “United Way envisions a world where every individual has an opportunity to succeed, and entire communities thrive as a result. We’re getting a little closer everyday, with help from millions of people around the world. Our work is fueled by the passion of 2.8 million volunteers and 9.8 million donors who give their time, their money and their voice to improve the lives of others.” Accepts: Bitcoin via Bitpay (note: Bitpay may charge a conversion fee).
Looking for more options? The Giving Block also maintains an extensive and updated list of charities that accept crypto.