Earlier this month, Apra Canada held a webinar on the use of cryptocurrencies in the field of fundraising. Haijiao Yan, Manager, Research and Pipeline, University of Ottawa, reports on this virtual event. You can reach her at Haijiao.Yan@uottawa.ca.

On April 22nd, 2021, I had a great opportunity to attend the webinar discussion on cryptocurrencies within the context of fundraising. Authors and experts Anne Connelly and Jason Shim presented their new book “Bitcoin and the Future of Fundraising: A Beginner’s Guide to Cryptocurrency Donations”. They shared with us how blockchain technology and the availability of Bitcoin and Ethereum could be a huge opportunity for charities and enable a new form of philanthropy from a new group of crypto donors.   

So, what is cryptocurrency and specifically Bitcoin? Bitcoin is a type of decentralized digital currency. Bitcoin is not owned by any government or corporation. It can be sent anywhere around the world and could be another class of assets that can be accepted for donations. Cryptocurrency has allowed ordinary individuals to become millionaires. There are likely around 100 million cryptocurrency owners around the world which provides a large pool of potential donors. Cryptocurrency donors are also very philanthropic. These donors want to change how society is structured but often found it’s difficult to find charities that they can give to. 

Since 2011, reputable charities around the world such as American Red Cross, United Way and UNICEF began to accept cryptocurrencies as a new method of payment but currently less than 4% of Canadian charities do accept digital currency.  Many of these cryptocurrency donors want to give but must search for which charities might accept digital currency. 

Anne and Jason shared with us several key tips and tricks on setting up a cryptocurrency program at our organizations.  Their book goes into details on how to secure organizational support, making the case for a cryptocurrency donation program, setting up the donation and tailoring stewardship to the donors. 

Crypto donors are not like your average donors.  Understanding the community and different subtypes of crypto donors is critical.  Learning about cryptocurrency and building support within your organization will help future proof the organization.  Since cryptocurrency within fundraising is still in the early adopter phase, there’s still ample opportunity for organizations to become involved in crypto and help bring in new revenue, new donors and be more innovative. Cryptocurrency is going to be part of the future in any shape or form. Get the conversation started on developing your own cryptocurrency programs and remember “you don’t get donations you can’t accept”!