Interview with The Giving Block
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”― John Bunyan
Hello Alex! Could you introduce yourselves a little for the ones less familiar with the industry?
Alex: I’m Alex Wilson, co-founder of The Giving Block. The Giving Block is a Washington DC based company that makes it easy for nonprofit organizations to accept Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Zcash and the Gemini Dollar.
This year, we’re collaborating with Gemini for International Women’s Day to raise awareness about how cryptocurrency is empowering women around the world.
Gemini is using a portion of their trading fees to match cryptocurrency donations up to $5,000.
Since how long have you been involved in the blockchain industry and when did you realize the potential of it regarding charity?
Alex: I’ve been working in the industry since early 2017. When the bull market rolled around towards the end of 2017, we saw $100’s of millions of dollars donated to charity but realized most nonprofits had no idea how to accept cryptocurrency donations or sell them for fiat
Our biggest inspiration was the Pineapple Fund which anonymously donated $56 million worth of bitcoin to about 60 different nonprofits. The reason people donate cryptocurrency is because in many countries, including the US, the IRS classifies cryptocurrency as property. That means when you donate your bitcoin directly to a nonprofit, you don’t owe capital gains tax and can write it off on your taxes, so it’s a great way to offset some of your gains before the year ends.
We realized there wasn’t an easy way for nonprofits to accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrency donations, so we created the first solution built just for nonprofits with features like automatic conversion to USD and automatic tax receipts for the donors.
Africa’s presence in the industry has been increasing but also faces some structural challenges on the adoption, what’s your perspective on Africa’s development?
Alex: Africa will play a key part in cryptocurrency adoption. The biggest barrier we see in Africa is the fiat on/off ramps but those are getting better all the time. Companies like YellowCard are changing this and making cryptocurrency more accessible for people in Africa. Currently, our focus is on large nonprofits that serve people globally like Pencils of Promise and Rainforest Foundation.
Could you tell us more about the Mona Foundation mission?
Alex: They educate children in need globally, empower women and girls, and enable them to give back to transform their own communities. In 2019 they supported the education and empowerment of more than 429,000 students in 19 projects in 12 countries. They are also the recipient of $1,000,000 Bitcoin grant from Pineapple Fund, and now accept other cryptocurrencies like Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) through The Giving Block.
Mona also has a really great video we made with Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office). I highly recommend you check it out HERE.
Africa Development Promise is another exciting project you are supporting, what you tell us about it?
Alex: Empowering rural women and supporting their efforts to achieve economic independence is a priority at Africa Development Promise. Studies have shown that when women earn an income, they invest 90 percent on their families. By building the productive capacity of women to manage and operate agricultural cooperatives and small business not only reduces poverty but spurs economic progress leading to economic self-sufficiency, health, and overall wellbeing.
Cryptocurrency brings some exciting advantages to charity in terms of transparency, speed and intermediaries, which advantages would you highlight?
Alex: Right now we are focused on getting nonprofits set up to accept cryptocurrency donations as a way to engage and access a new pool of donors. This is a win-win scenario because it gives the nonprofits more money to fulfil their mission and it gives donors a nice tax break. Donors are paying 20–30% less in taxes and are able to give more because of that when they donate cryptocurrency. We’ve written more about that HERE.
We see this as phase one, and will get into increased transparency, speed and lower costs once the nonprofits become more comfortable with the basics. But at a high level, being able to send money around the world within seconds and much more cheaply, is something that can benefit most nonprofits increase their impact.
What would you guys tell to all the ones who still undecided about giving that step forwards helping the ones in need?
Alex: Donate cryptocurrency and lower your taxes. Not only do you save on taxes, but you’re pushing adoption forward. The more cryptocurrency donated, the more nonprofits will talk about cryptocurrency and put it in a positive light. Have some dust sitting in an old wallet? Send it over. No amount is too small.
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