blockchain charity donations

To round out the year, we asked our Block Explorer writers to tell us what they’re most excited about for blockchain and crypto in 2019. In this piece, Rebecca Campbell explores the potential for blockchain to bring transparency to charitable giving.

As 2018 draws to a close, a look back at the last 12 months has been anything but smooth for the cryptocurrency market.

This time last year, bitcoin was trading within touching distance of $20,000 and the bulls were loving it. Fast-forward to December 2018 and bitcoin has fallen roughly 80%. So, as the market slowly turns away from 2018 and looks ahead to 2019, what is it that I’m most excited about the space for the New Year?

Blockchain Brings Transparency to Charity 

Throughout 2018, the use of the blockchain in the supply chain industry has demonstrated the potential the technology has in improving services.

Whether it’s within art, food, humanitarian, fashion or healthcare, knowing what is happening from start to finish can change how we view things, delivering a greater level of transparency, and with it trust.

For me, I’m particularly interested in seeing how the blockchain can change how we give money to charities. 

Blockchain in Supply Chains

Millions of people around the world donate to charity, but for many, the question of how the money is spent and who it’s helping often remains unanswered.

Trust and confidence in the charity sector remains low, according to a Trust in Charities 2018 report by Populus, a UK market research company, and the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

It notes that trust and confidence had dropped to 5.5 out of 10, declining from 5.7 when the report was last conducted in 2016. This drop in faith follows the scandal surrounding Oxfam earlier this year, in which Oxfam was banned from Haiti after its workers were accused of sexual misconduct.

Trust in charities
Trust in charities has declined precipitously over the last few years, according to Populus report.

Blockchain Startups Bring Transparency to Charity Donations

In a bid to improve how we view charity donations, there are already several platforms available, which are working at bringing about transparency to the donation process.

One of which is London-based Alice, a social funding and impact management platform built on the Ethereum blockchain.

Launched in 2017, the platform’s first pilot was in partnership with St. Mungo’s a UK-based homeless charity. The aim of which was to find homes for 15 homeless people on the streets of London.

Alice blockchain charity
Alice’s pilot project to help the homeless in London

Raising $103,000 in Bitcoin

Another platform that is delivering transparency to how we donate is Italian startup Helperbit, a natural disaster management platform whose goal is to bring transparency to the charity and insurance sectors, giving people back the power.

To date, Helperbit has received 354 donations, amounting to nearly $109,000 in bitcoin from 1,298 users, with 12 different projects currently ongoing. One project is raising money for toys that can be built or adapted for children with disabilities. Another project is raising money for a clean water project in Nigeria.

California-based BitGive Foundation is another platform that is making waves within the crypto and blockchain giving space.

Founded in 2013, the first Bitcoin non-profit organization has been working for the last five years at boosting transparency within the donation industry. Last October, BitGive went live with its beta version of GiveTrack, a blockchain-based donation platform that enables donors to transfer, track, and deliver a permanent record of transactions across the globe from start to finish.

BitGive projects
BitGive projects from 2013 – 2016

Earlier this month, the organization launched GiveTrack 1.0 which lets donors track how their funds are used in real time. BitGive also announced its support for four new non-profit organizations: Code to Inspire, Desafio Levantemos Chile, América Solidaria and Run for Water.

Donors Know Exactly Where Their Money Is Going

Through the GiveTrack platform, it’s aiming to give donors a higher level of confidence, knowing that the money they are donating is going to those who need it the most as well as how the funds are spent.

These are just a few of the charity platforms that are using blockchain to improve the donation supply chain. And as we move toward 2019, I’m excited to see what else these organizations have in store and how they can further improve the charity sector.

With confidence and trust at an all-time low for the charity sector, blockchain-based platforms, such as those mentioned, are paving the way to how more people around the world may donate in the future.

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Ripple

Ripple has announced that it is donating $29 million to popular teaching fundraising site DonorsChoose.org to help bring teachers classroom dreams come true.

DonorsChoose is a nonprofit organization that uses crowdfunding to help public school students and their teachers so that students in every community have the experiences they need for a great education.

Now, in a bid to help the educational establishment reach its goals across America, San Francisco-based Ripple has announced that it is giving students and teachers across the country their #bestschoolday. This means that the company has pledged to pay over 35,000 classroom requests on the DonorsChoose website.

Making the announcement in a YouTube video, Monica Long, senior vice president of marketing at Ripple, along with Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose, explained that this was a chance for Ripple to thank the teachers who helped them get to where they are in their careers today.

After sending an email to Chris Larsen, founder of Ripple, Best thought his request for donations would be shunned. However, according to Long, the idea behind DonorsChoose resonated with the team. As Ripple is about making payments faster, inclusive, and more accessible to people around the world, so too is DonorsChoose making education more accessible and inclusive for students.

Responding to the announcement, Best said:

“The teachers behind these projects work with more than a million students who are now going to get materials and experiences that they need to learn. I do not believe there has ever been a day when this many classroom dreams came true.”

The funding by the company, the single biggest cryptocurrency donation to a charity, was under tight wraps in the lead up to the announcement. While there have been large donations that funded every request in a state or city, this is the first time that all requests on the website have been funded by one organization.

Converting the XRP tokens into dollars, DonorsChoose will now be able to fulfil requests such as buying lab coats for science students, insect kits, new school furniture such as chairs and desks, sports equipment, musical equipment, and coding cards to get students on the path to learning about code work, to name a few.

Having reached over 27.5 million students, with nearly 1.5 million projects funded since DonorsChoose started in 2000, the organization has gone from a one-man band to a charity with offices in New York and San Francisco working at helping teachers and donors connect.

Featured image from Shutterstock.