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How cryptocurrency could change fundraising

A guest contribution by Fred Moreira.

UNICEF changed the game in May of this year. The Independent reported on UNICEF’s innovative form of cashless fundraising, in which the agency asked people to donate their computer’s processing power to mine digital currency.

Specifically, the Australian branch of UNICEF set up  ‘The Hopepage’, a website that allowed visitors to donate between 20–80% of their computer’s computing power so that the agency could mine Monero, a cryptocurrency that is easily convertible into cash. All proceeds according to the report would be used for the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Interestingly, this was not the first time UNICEF had turned to cryptocurrency to raise funds. Back in February, the agency launched ‘Chaingers.io’, the not-so-successful predecessor of ‘The Hopepage’ that asked visitors to mine Ethereum, this time for the children of war-torn Syria.

UNICEF is not alone, though, in as far as using cryptocurrency for fundraising. The global charity may be the most recognisable agency to have so far utilised digital currencies to raise funds, but it was not the first. One of the first was actually Giftcoin, launched in January of this year with the aim of revolutionising charitable giving.

Giftcoin’s goal was to serve as a platform that is fully transparent and free, which is a set-up that will likely appeal to donors. It also uses its own cryptocurrency — called Giftcoin, and includes an extensive selection of charitable organisations where you can donate the digital currency.

The online auction platform CharityStars is very similar to Giftcoin as it, too, aims to make charitable giving as transparent as possible. This platform accepts donations in different digital currencies and instantly converts them into AidCoin, CharityStars’ own version of the Giftcoin digital currency. All donations converted to AidCoin are tracked via AidChain.

Using cryptocurrency in fundraising is just one of several real-world applications of digital currencies. And that number is continuing to grow, opening up the possibility of more widespread Bitcoin use.

FXCM posed the question whether cryptocurrencies are heading for mass adoption, and while it agreed that it is a possibility, it nonetheless listed several barriers to their widespread use. Some of these barriers include price volatility, which impedes the viability of cryptocurrencies to function as a store of value; which can turn off non-tech savvy people; and, which may cause problems in terms of regulation and cause uncertainty in the process; and hard forks. But should cryptocurrencies overcome these obstacles, along with concerns about scalability, hard forks, and incentives, they can very well achieve mainstream adoption.

So far, the early returns have looked promising for digital currencies, and a future where they are as commonplace as cash may be well within the realm of possibility. Should that happen, donations via cryptocurrencies will likely be the norm, too.

Fred Moreira has a post-graduate degree in computing and currently works as a part-time consultant programmer for at least 3 US-based software companies. You can contact Fred at imfredmoreira@gmail.com.

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