Cryptocurrencies have taken the world by storm and opened up a whole new world for nonprofit fundraising.
By Njango Njung'e
Only a few years ago cryptocurrencies were unknown by most and when discussed at all, the dialogue was often negative. Now, professional sports teams and major brands have jumped in with both feet and even the staid New York Times is offering “The Latercomer’s Guide to Crypto.”
Along the way, cryptocurrencies and NFTs (nonfungible tokens) became an important source of support for the charitable organizations willing to venture into the new waters of cryptocurrency philanthropy, or “cryptophilanthropy." Friends of Bonobos waded into this new world in 2021 following the suggestion of a loyal donor.
This was a completely new world for us. Luckily, we were up for the challenge and there were good tools available to assist us, as we’ll explain. Many other charities have also opted in, including African Wildlife Foundation, Trees for the Future and Save the Children.
Why Do We Accept Cryptocurrency Donations?
"It’s an opportunity too good to pass up," says Ariel Rogers, executive director of Friends of Bonobos. The number of crypto users reached 295 million at the end of 2021 and is forecast to hit 1 billion by the end of 2022.
"This is a wide pool of potential donors whose support can have a big influence on the long-term future of bonobos," Rogers says.
Crypto users tend to be younger, including about 60 percent of millennials. Accepting crypto has allowed us to engage with a new, diverse, previously unexplored portfolio of younger, entrepreneurial donors. We are also heartened by the generosity of the crypto community, which rivals traditional giving: The average crypto donation is $11,000, nearly 100 times larger than the average gift given online in a traditional currency.
Further, we strive to meet donors at their point of comfort. This means accepting multiple forms of giving, including credit cards, PayPal, Venmo, stock donations, and paper checks sent through the mail. Now, that also means providing the option of donating 80+ types of crypto.
We have been fortunate enough to receive donations from NFT projects such as Bored Ape Yacht Club, The Boring Ape Chronicles, Banana Task Force Ape, and Art3 in addition to other crypto donors. Their support helped us rescue and care for an influx of bonobo orphans to our sanctuary during the COVID pandemic. We look forward to forging new partnerships with even more NFT projects who are passionate about the work we do.
"The threats to bonobos and their rainforest home are more urgent than ever, so it is imperative that we forge relationships with as many new donors as possible and continue involving new generations of conservationists. In the fast-changing and technology-driven world we live in, the potential impact of cryptocurrency in bonobo conservation cannot be underestimated.
How Do We Accept Crypto Donations?
Cryptos are known for wild swings in value and can be daunting for any novice. Fortunately, there are platforms such as The Giving Block that not only understand this world, but also act as the much-needed bridge between nonprofits and crypto donors. Their software immediately converts crypto donations to fiat - government-backed U.S. dollars - and deposits cash to our account. For small nonprofits like ours, this saves labor and eliminates the risk of holding volatile assets.
The Giving Block makes it easy for potential crypto donors to find their charities choice who accept crypto donations, raises awareness of crypto’s potential to fuel good causes, and empowers nonprofits to connect with this fresh pool of donors. They also go a step further and help charities reach their fundraising goals in various ways, such as a recent campaign to match $10 million in donations through their platform, Crypto Giving Tuesday, and the Crypto Giving Pledge.
What About the Environmental Impact?
"As a great ape conservation organization, we care about the environmental repercussions of everything we do, including our decision to accept crypto donations," says Rogers. "This is why the question of energy consumption in crypto mining is of utmost importance to us."
Is cryptocurrency truly harmful to the environment? Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are often a scapegoat for increased emissions or climate change impacts, but research shows otherwise. Crypto mining is largely powered by renewable energy especially in remote places where the energy wouldn’t be used for something else.
The crypto community embraces the need to reduce its carbon footprints and the sector is moving towards being more environmentally friendly. Yet, even now the data show it's still not as negatively impactful towards the environment as traditional banking or other tech.
It is important to note that cryptocurrency mining doesn’t inherently produce extra carbon emissions because computers can use power from any source. A study estimates up to 73% of Bitcoin miners use at least some renewable energy as part of their power supply, including hydropower from China’s massive dams.
With electricity as the main operational cost for crypto miners, there is fierce competition to find the cheapest sources of power. As of 2021, renewable energy is the cheapest source of energy, making it the most desirable option to crypto miners. Many Bitcoin mining businesses rely on environmentally friendly energy sources like hydropower and capturing natural gas leaks from oil fields. In a comparison with traditional banking and currency such as gold, Bitcoin actually “consumes/emits less than half of what the gold mining industry does, and less than one-fifth of what bank branches and ATMs do.”
Nevertheless, users of Ethereum and other cryptos have been looking for more environmentally sustainable ways to mine (such as a shift from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake), further proof that the question of environmental impact is taken seriously by the crypto and NFT community.
"At Friends of Bonobos, we recognize the substantial impact crypto donations have had, and the good they can do for bonobos and rainforest conservation," Rogers says. "We're always analyzing the pros and cons of new technology, and ultimately we will always work to do what is best for bonobos and our mission."
Why Should You Donate Crypto to Friends of Bonobos?
Tax deductions are one of the biggest incentives for donating crypto. By donating cryptocurrency to a nonprofit, U.S. donors are able to write off the donation for a deduction. Donors would be subject to tax if they convert the virtual currency into cash before giving it away, which means less money could go to their selected charity.
Like other donors who choose to support Friends of Bonobos, a highly rated and effective rainforest protection charity, some crypto donors give in order to offset at least some of the impact their activities have on the environment. An added bonus is that crypto users don’t have to pay capital gains taxes on the donated crypto!
Which Cryptocurrencies Do We Accept?
You can donate in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, Shiba Inu and more than 80 other cryptos in this comprehensive list!