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The article is penned by Alex Howard, co-founder of Giftcoin.
In little more than six months, Bitcoin has gone from relative obscurity to front-page news across the world. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are renowned for their volatility but despite their ups and downs, the overall increase in price has made it a virtual gold-rush and many advocates and supporters have become wealthy. But has this wealth blinkered them to Bitcoin’s libertarian origins?
At one end of the spectrum, Bitcoin was meant to be a frictionless international payment system, a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that allowed payments to be sent and received without going via a central financial institution. At the other end, it was designed to replace a broken banking system. After a torrid time in 2007/2008, the public had lost confidence in banks and governments and Bitcoin’s trustless solution was a solution. It’s no coincidence that embedded in Bitcoin’s genesis (first) block is this headline from The Times: “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”
Taking control away from the central banks and the governments and giving it back to the people is very much at the heart of Bitcoin and this community of libertarians have evangelised the cryptocurrency gospel over the years. But there has been a clear sea change in the past year: the utopian vision has crumbled as cryptocurrencies have rallied in price. Many people bought into Bitcoin as a get rich quick scheme with no regard for what it stands for.
Time to use the technology for good
Now is the time to reflect and look back to those founding principles of bringing trust in a trustless world. Charities are a great use-case for blockchain technology because hundreds of billions are donated to charity every year, however very little of it is tracked and in some instances money is lost to bribes and corruption, or never reaches the intended recipients.
Blockchain gives us the power to ensure that money goes where it’s meant to go – reassuring donors and increasing trust in charities. Trust that seems to be in short supply after recent scandals.
Blockchain can motivate a new era of philanthropy
Aside from growing costs and charities facing an uphill battle to solve the problems they were created to tackle, they also face a greater fundraising challenge in the first place.
According to a UK Giving report released last year, young adults are the least likely age group to donate. Giftcoin’s own independently-conducted research with YouGov, revealed that charities could increase donations by 50% if they were more transparent about how their money is spent and three quarters of millennials would like to be notified when their donation is spent.
While the older generations may be more likely to be content with a passive, one-way relationship with charities, millennials aren’t. They want to feel connected to charities and to see and feel that their contribution is having a direct impact. This is a reason crowdfunding campaigns on sites like JustGiving and GoFundMe have been so popular. Donors using these platforms are directed to specific projects, not to the general funds of a multi-faceted charity. It’s this concept of specified cause giving that charities need to embrace alongside their everyday fundraising activities.
Advances in technology and in transaction recording mean a charity can now provide clear visibility of how each donation is used with minimal operational impact. Furthermore, this information can then be easily disseminated to the donor over social media, helping to build the community trust model that will in turn, encourage more giving.
Enter Giftcoin – a cryptocurrency for charitable giving
With Giftcoin our vision is to create a world in which every time you give money to charity and good causes, you have total trust that your funds are going exactly where you want them to.
Right now, giving money to charity is a one-directional experience. You give money, and you hope it goes where you intended. When you give with Giftcoin, you can have absolute confidence that your money is going exactly where you intended.
This offers the chance to drastically change the relationship and attitudes people have towards charitable giving – demystifying the work of these remarkable organisations, simplifying and automating the bureaucracy of fundraising, and distributing those funds to good causes.
With this trust, we believe donors will choose to give more money to the causes they care about.
As a community, I believe we need to now ensure that we work to honour its original promise to be a force of change for good. Radically disrupting the world of charitable giving seems the perfect place to start.
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