How are charities using Blockchain?

By Richie Florey 11/03/2019

So Blockchain has been around for a few years now. As we manage the donations platforms for many large charities, I get asked a lot by charities about Blockchain and if they should be investing in it. Will having that transparency for donors ultimately help raise more money? Will it be an admin nightmare to manage? Is it all just hype?

Charity sector examples

It’s still very much in it’s infancy within the charity sector, but I thought I’d share some examples of how some charities are using Blockchain or the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

Some charities such as RNLI have set up the ability to donate using Bitcoin and have been doing so for a while now https://rnli.org/support-us/give-money/bitcoin-donations.

In some cases, it’s being used in a relatively simple way to accelerate the movement of money from a charity to its beneficiaries, and to reduce or eliminate foreign exchange costs. An example here from the tech company Disberse which has been set up as a distribution platform for foreign aid with a trial by UK charity Positive Women. https://startnetwork.org/news-and-blogs/blockchain-experiment-humanitarian-aid

World Food Programmeis rolling out its use for the distribution of money directly to people in refugee camps, and enabling purchasing in accredited retail outlets, so that spending power reaches the people it’s intended for, allowing people to make their own decisions about what they need - case study at https://innovation.wfp.org/project/building-blocks

It’s also starting to be used as a way of creating greater transparency in supply chains, especially those with relatively small and poor producers, either to help a coffee drinker be sure that the producer was paid a fair price by Fair Foodcharity in the Netherlands  https://fairfood.nl/blockchaincases/koffie-ethiopie/, or in an Oxfam project to give Cambodian rice producers access to better information about the market so that they can get a fairer https://d1holjzgk5247a.cloudfront.net/cambodia.oxfam.org/s3fs-public/file_attachments/BlocRice_0.pdf

There’s also work being done to try to create greater transparency for donors on how their money is spent – an early example is https://aidcon.com which aims to create a mechanism for people who already have bitcoins, to use them to support charities – the assumption being that these people will give large amounts, and will want to be able to see exactly where their money was spent; however, if you dig through the details, you’ll see that this is still a long way from being achievable, but the direction of travel is interesting.

So hopefully sharing this handful of interesting use cases gives you some food for thought if you are considering how you could use Blockchain in your organisation.

Understanding the basics

Oh and if you are still getting up to speed and want to understand what Blockchain is, here’s a good overview of how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_160oMzblY8

Vicky Reeves is Digital Managing Director at WPN Chameleon, the digital and direct fundraising agency. Vicky is passionate about helping charities to increase their fundraising through new and emerging digital channels and technologies. She manages Addition the digital product studio within WPNC which enables charities to take frictionless donations across different digital channels.

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