If you haven’t noticed, the crypto universe has been creeping up
slowly and is starting to engage us in ways that heretofore were
unknown to many of us. Suddenly, crypto seems to be everywhere.
Haven’t you noticed?
What grabbed my attention recently was a front-page headline on New
Jersey’s Art of Living at The Jewish Home Family, a
newsletter by The Jewish Home Foundation at Rockleigh. An
eye-catching headline screamed: “Now Accepting Crypto Donations”
with a sub heading “Jewish Home Foundation Now Accepts
The article on page 1 of that newsletter quotes the Jewish Home
Foundation Board president as follows: “Cryptocurrency is a new
reality in the world of finance and is growing rapidly in
fundraising, as well.” He continued, “Just as we strive to provide
the best and most innovative care to our elders, our fundraising
efforts also reflect that drive to offer the best-in-class services
to our donors.” Wow x 2!
And then, a few weeks later, I spotted an ad by the Jewish
Federation of Northern New Jersey in the March 24th
issue of The Jewish Link of New Jersey and its headline
screamed: “Go with Crypto – Cryptocurrency donations will be
matched dollar-for-dollar.” Wow x 3!
I could carry on with more such examples, but there is one I really
must share. I walked into my dog groomers’ salon and prominent on
the Reception desk was a big sign: “Now accepting Crypto!” Wow x 4!
What’s going on?
In a discussion with the owner of the salon, he told me that he
began to offer this option at the beginning of 2022 and guess what?
Many clients are paying him in cryptocurrency. The difference
between his proprietary establishment and nonprofits is that he is
willing to “let the cryptocurrency ride,” even though it’s a
volatile currency. He said “I’m a gambler and I have seen in this
era of inflation major increases in my crypto.” Nonprofits, on the
other hand, may pay an exit fee of 1% or more to liquidate the
crypto no different than stocks that are donated to them. But they
don’t dare play with donor monies.
FreeWill, a privately held company, says it “builds technology to
make the largest and most impactful charitable donations easier for
donors to give and simpler for nonprofit organizations to receive.”
Patrick Schmitt, the Co-CEO, indicated in a recent circular about a
webinar he led that “Cryptocurrencies
are booming in popularity, with the total value of all crypto
recently passing the $2 trillion mark (Forbes
magazine April/May issue claims $3 trillion). And as crypto is used
and invested in more every day, it’s becoming even more important
for nonprofits and fundraising.”
Continued Schmitt, “The good news is that crypto owners are even
more generous than the average investor. Nearly half of them
donated over $1,000 to charity in 2020 (compared to a third of all
investors) and one in three have donated crypto assets to charity.”
He concluded, “For nonprofits that want to reach younger,
charitable generations, crypto is one of the best avenues to do so.
Yet, many fundraisers are still struggling to understand what
crypto is, what it means for philanthropy, and how to secure these
The largest trade association of nonprofit fundraisers in north
America is the Association of Professional Fundraisers (AFP). Among
seminar offerings this year was an educational program in mid-April
for its membership called “Cryptocurrency.” It’s everywhere. A
recent full page in Entrepreneur magazine, a monthly
pitched to entrepreneurial investors, advertised the Cryptoworldcon
in Miami at the beginning of April. The conference and trade show
featured fourteen speakers ranging from Jordan Belfort, the “Wolf
of Wall Street” to various crypto experts and even patent and
trademark attorneys. The January 2022 issue of Forbes
promoted the same event.
Crypto madness is permeating society in ways never before imagined.
And the nonprofit world needs to go about this carefully before it
jumps on the crypto wagon. A story in the December 13, 2021 issue
of Forbes carries a cover story titled “The Croesus
of Crypto.” Croesus’ name is known for the saying “rich as Croesus”
meaning filthy rich. He was said to have derived his wealth
from King Midas – you know, the guy with the golden touch. The
story highlights the co-founder of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange
co-founded by Sam Bankman-Fried who built a $22.5 billion fortune
before his 30th birthday by profiting off the crypto
frenzy. Except for Mark Zuckerberg, no one in history has gotten so
rich so young. He claims he “wants his wealth to survive long
enough to give it all away.” Are you standing in line
Beware the hype, but do pay close attention to the growth of
cryptocurrencies here and elsewhere. A headline in the
Financial Post on September 8, 2021 shouts out:
“Cryptocurrencies are fast becoming a fact of daily life in
developing countries.” And why not? Their currencies are often
unstable or failing. For example, in El Salvador, “the small central American nation became the first in
the world to make bitcoin legal tender, meaning merchants from car
dealers to coffee shops will be obliged to accept it as payment.”
In fact, a Starbucks store in San Salvador has a designated
“Bitcoin register” for sales. Expect crypto ATMs to pop up in
supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores.
According to Chainanalysis, a leading data company,
it “ranks Vietnam first for crypto adoption worldwide — one of 19
emerging and frontier markets in its top 20, with only the US among
advanced economies making an appearance at number eight in 2021.”
UsefulTulips.org tracks the use of cryptocurrency in the developing
world. It relates that “sub-Saharan Africa has overtaken North
America to become the geographical region with the highest volume
of this kind of crypto activity.”
So, what does the future hold for cryptocurrency and nonprofit
fundraising? It seems this will be the trend and not a fad. A
February 10, 2022 story in The NonProfit Times
declares that crypto donations skyrocketed in 2021. It states “The
annual volume of crypto donations jumped from $4.2 million in 2020
to $69.6 million in 2021, an increase of 1,558%, according to the
annual report. The average crypto donation was $10,455, up 236%
from $3,109 in 2020. On average, nonprofits received $69,644 in
crypto donations in 2021, via The Giving Block, an increase of 66%
from the average $44,000 in 2020.” The Giving Block is a
Washington, D.C.-based firm that helps nonprofits accept donations
We are barely skimming the surface of this issue in this article.
We still have much to learn. My best recommendation to nonprofits
is to carefully develop policies and procedures on how to handle
crypto donations. Otherwise, you may fall prey to the old joke (in
its new form) of how do you make a small fortune with
cryptocurrency? Start with a large fortune.
© 2022 Norman B. Gildin. All rights reserved.
About the author:
Norman B. Gildin is the author of the recently released book on
nonprofit fundraising “Learn From My Experiences.” He is the
President of Strategic Fundraising Group whose singular mission is
to assist nonprofits raise critical funds for their organization.
His website is at www.normangildin.com.