Can Bitcoin Revolutionize Global Aid and Philanthropy?
How the Blockchain offers Transparency & Accountability for Donors & NGOs
September 22, 2015 – by Connie M. Gallippi, Founder & Executive Director, BitGive
You are likely living under a rock these days if you haven’t heard about the inquiries into foreign aid efforts in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, or other organizations in the philanthropic arena.
While these unfortunate stories are out there, there is also a lot of great work happening in the NGO world; and in fact, many humanitarian efforts and basic societal needs and environmental protections are met by the great work of nonprofits.
Surely by now you’ve heard about Bitcoin as a digital currency, one that can be transferred instantly and securely to anywhere in the world with little to no fees. This is revolutionary in and of itself, but there’s more. Bitcoin is powered by the blockchain, a transparent public ledger that shows every transaction ever confirmed by the network. The Bitcoin protocol is maintained by a network of thousands of computers that feed into the common ledger from all over the world. This may sound a bit futuristic, and that’s because it is! This technology provides a way to show the flow of funds in a transparent way that is public and broadcast across thousands of computers all over the world.
Imagine all the questions and unknowns about where foreign aid funds go in situations like the Haiti earthquake that are currently under scrutiny. Countries across the world come together to assist, and dozens of government agencies and nonprofit organizations are leading the efforts, along with their partners and support teams on the ground; hundreds of contractors, vendors, and volunteers; and of course local organizations and governments. Each has their role and position in the flow of the millions – and sometimes billions – of dollars that are donated by well-meaning citizens and taxpayers of the world.
Among these are many well-meaning nonprofits, agencies, and people who want those dollars to go towards their intended purpose. The challenges are plentiful in foreign aid and disaster relief and also in every day nonprofit work. The funds pass through many hands and often are siphoned off via fraud that is hard to trace back or lost in the chaos of disaster relief efforts when infrastructure is devastated and challenges pile up and snowball.
We may not be able to stop natural disasters from happening, curb severe weather events, or solve all the problems of corruption around the globe, but we can implement a new system using the most innovative technology available today. Bitcoin is an amazing innovation that provides the means to not only transfer funds directly, securely, and at significantly lower costs; but to also broadcast every transaction on a public ledger, allowing everyone to see exactly where the funds go and the impact they have. Even your local food bank or SPCA could adopt a transparent donor platform to offer more accountability and encourage more support.
We have partnered with Factom to build this very platform. Our initial pilot project is in partnership with The Water Project to support water projects in western Kenya. BitPesa and The Plug and Play Technology Center are also partners on the project.
We have just begun the challenging and exciting process of developing this platform. Learn more and follow our progress here.
About the Author: Ms. Gallippi is the Founder and Executive Director of the BitGive Foundation, which was established in mid-2013 and is the first Bitcoin 501 (c)(3) nonprofit. BitGive has built partnerships and raised funds with large nonprofits including Save the Children, The Water Project, TECHO, and Medic Mobile. BitGive recently announced its Bitcoin Charity 2.0 Initiative, which includes a variety of projects aimed at leveraging Bitcoin and blockchain technology to benefit charitable organizations worldwide.