Humanitarian relief is foremost in the minds of a large percentage of people around the world in the days immediately following a natural disaster of any kind. The instinct to help, share, and generously offer support to those in need allows agencies that target disaster relief to effectively fulfill their mission, but what about the other types of humanitarian relief – the day to day work of making living conditions and health better for the poor, disadvantaged, or displaced?
An increasing number of these charities and organisations now encourage donations through cryptocurrency, originally just through Bitcoin but other cryptocurrencies are now accepted including Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin. The following are examples of charitable organisations that accept cryptocurrency:
Based in New York, NY — GiveDirectly was launched in 2012 and began to cover a variety of relief needs in either Kenya or Uganda in Africa. GiveDirectly accepts 3 types of cryptocurrencies as donations.
From documented research regarding the evidence of impact from cash-transfer based donations, the acceptance of donations in cryptocurrency have a clear positive impact:
- increased health in the height and weight of children within the covered area
- reduction in low birth weight
- reduction in incidents of HIV infection
- increased hours spent in school for children
- decreased amount of child labour
- the ability to invest for the future or save increases overall future income
- no significant increase in the use of cigarettes or alcohol after receiving cash grants
Built with ‘smart contracts’ on the Ethereum blockchain, a UK-based platform for funding social relief efforts – Alice – has emerged to assist NGOs, charities, and social enterprise groups. The aim of Alice is to encourage the highest level of transparency and accountability where donations are concerned. When you donate through this platform you are able to click on “My Impact” to see where your funds have gone and how well they are working.
Founded in 2013, California based BitGive gives detailed information on their website about their bitcoin and blockchain-related methodology for implementing global philanthropy. BitGive has worked on the following projects in the past:
- the supply of essential mobile phones to medical workers in Nepal
- typhoon relief in the Philippines
- tornado relief in the USA
- support in Mexico for the mentally disabled
- poverty relief through homebuilding in Brazil
- providing water that is safe to drink in Kenya
From clean water to community development to homelessness, donations made through Helperbit can be tracked at every stage along the way. This award-winning app is glowingly reviewed in the media. Donations can be made by cryptocurrency and the steps from donation to resolution can be followed on the blockchain-built site.
The Water Project6
A focus on clean, safe drinking water is the mission of The Water Project. A phone app that is downloadable through iTunes allows donations to be made by Bitcoin and tracking of the progress and water flow of wells located in various spots throughout Africa to be seen in real time.
One of the largest USA-based charities is United Way and they, too, began accepting donations via cryptocurrency a few years ago. Focusing on education, income, and health, this international charity has added the prevention of human trafficking and slavery to their mission.
The upsurge in blockchain usage amongst charitable and relief organisations is highly likely to increase incrementally in the years ahead as they continue to embrace the idea of allowing donors to feel more comfortable about knowing where the money is spent. If a streamlining of record-keeping also occurs through the use of apps built on a blockchain, that will also provide a tangible benefit to the various organisations by allowing processing costs and administrative costs to be reduced, thus creating a means for more funds to funnel through to the causes they are meant to serve.
- GiveDirectly (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.givedirectly.org/research-on-cash-transfers
- How cryptocurrencies can make transparent disaster relief really work. (2017, Sept. 29). Retrieved from https://medium.com/@telcoin/how-cryptocurrencies-can-make-transparent-disaster-relief-really-work-46c8ddc38cad
- Alice (n.d.). Retrieved from http://alice.si/#Home
- BitGive (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bitgivefoundation.org/
- Helperbit (n.d.). Retrieved from https://app.helperbit.com/about
- The Water Project (n.d.). Retrieved from https://thewaterproject.org/donate-bitcoin
- United Way (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.unitedway.org/get-involved/ways-to-give/donate-bitcoin/faq