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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I first met Roland when I was participating in a workshop that he was running in the early days of 100%Open. Then I was a client when they helped the NSPCC (where I worked) with some new thinking and later I went on to work as a freelance associate for 100%Open.
This is how stuff happens. Work gets done when you know people, understand what they do and trust them. Relationships can shift and change over time, but I’ve found that when you want something done you start with going to your trusted network and if you don’t know how to do something you go to your trusted network and find a person that can. So it’s important to build your networks before you need them.
I wanted to share my top take-outs about innovating with confidence from the webinar with Roland.
Not everyone is an extrovert Innovation workshops where the most extroverted person gets the most air space and the workshop goes in the direction of their ideas aren’t great. That’s why having a good facilitator is important, to ensure that everyone gets to contribute. Roland introduced us to ‘brain writing’ where people write down their ideas to solve a problem on their own first. Then the ideas are shared and discussed. Often there are similar ideas which indicates a shared direction and it means that everyone gets to input from the start.
The 2 pizza rule Jeff Bezos is accredited with this simple rule to keep groups working on new ideas and projects small. If your group of innovators can eat more than 2 pizzas (assuming that you are dealing with average appetites) then it’s too big!
Innovation is a ‘U shaped’ process At the start of an innovation process everyone is enthusiastic and excited. The same happens at the end of the process where a product gets to market. In the middle it can be a whole different story, organisational treacle and antibodies get in the way and we can run out of momentum, budget and energy. (I sometimes refer to this as the curve of doom). The point is, if you know this when you embark on an innovation project it’s helpful, as when you are at the bottom of the U-shaped curve you know that there is hope! And that if you persevere that you will come out the other side.
The anxiety gap This is when expectations don’t match delivery. Usually, in an innovation project the flurry of tangible activity happens near to the delivery date, so reporting on progress can feel slow until the launch. It’s the same feeling as cramming for an exam at the last-minute, or pulling an all nighter to meet a deadline. You deliver but it’s not until the end that delivery can match expectations.
Get people to vote with their feet In a workshop people are often asked to vote on their favourite idea. Sense check this by asking people what idea they would like to spend time in the workshop developing. If no one wants to work on it there is a disconnect. The idea will struggle to get off the ground if there is no enthusiasm to develop it at the start.
Go as fast as you can. It’s better to get something into the market and test it quickly than keep tinkering around until something is perfect. The best way to make improvements is to get real feedback from real customers.
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