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Few years ago I was in the boardroom of a renowned international nonprofit organisation in Johannesburg for an interview. I was asked to suggest an innovative fundraising campaign and I proposed raising digital currency as a new strategy. I did not get the job.
Based on values or achievements, the word ‘success’ holds different meanings to different people and organisations. And, as we know it, values are at the heart of charity and nonprofit operations.
Nonprofit organisations’ visions and goals are to meet the needs of their beneficiaries beyond personal aspirations. This is a motive that strives to keep community benefit as a priority at all times.
However, with the recent global economic meltdown and consequently the declining donor funding, the need to secure resources for the sustainability of the organisation has become imperative.
Civil society organisations or institution’s impact in the near future and how they realise their vision is intertwined with the ability or the extent to which they have initiated, embraced or integrated digital strategies and trends.
Operating and interacting in a fast growing digital world, fundraisers are now provided with a pool of new techniques and online donation strategies. Among others, the ability to leverage the power of digital currency to crowdfund projects. A real time opportunity to receiving crypto-donation.
In Africa, civil society organisations are faced with huge financial challenges. On one hand austerity policy from donors due to limited funding, and on the other hand the politicisation of national funding scheme. Thus, now or ever sustaining their work requires the use of various ways to raise organisation needed resources. And Bitcoin can be just that.
“Bitcoin offers an alternative financial system not run by political organisations, agendas or ideologies, but rather by market forces,” says Zach Harvey, chief executive officer of Lamassu.
A free digital currency fundraising solution able to harvest from a multitude of digital technologies is now a possibility and presents itself as an alternative or in some cases a valuable additional donation model.
No account is required and no sensitive information is collected. Bitcoin has been defined as the currency of the Internet and a decentralised digital money. Bitcoins are issued and managed without any central authority whatsoever: there is no government, company, or bank.
Bitcoin was invented in 2009, ever since then, there has been a lot of positive changes which have been observed on the way businesses operate. Many political and charity organisations worldwide have been exploring its possibilities.
‘The Bitcoin world is changing fast, and I wouldn’t be surprised if cyber currency makes a significant impact in the 2016 political election cycle,’ says Erik Nilsson, head of sales and marketing for CMDI, the largest Republican fundraising technology platform.
Raising or mining Bitcoin is now considered one of the most convenient, easier, and cheaper way to fundraise and donate to charity by some experts. This is because Bitcoin money is donated in virtual form something that reduces issues that may arise due to use of solid cash or online payment requirements.
There are different ways to raising Bitcoins and the more fundraisers and organisations are coming on board, more creative and effective methods are being created.
One of major fundraising methods is the use of assurance contracts which entails the creation and implementation agreements with other people. In this case you will need create a bitcoin wallet or address. You can get a bitcoin wallet from Coinbase if you do not already have one – and then you will just need to tell your potential contributors or donors that Bitcoins will be used to fund your cause or project.
Another way to raise Bitcoins is through crowdfunding Bitcoin’s pledgers via the use of Bitcoin-based companies which provide an online-based platform where people or organisations wanting to raise Bitcoins has to create a project profile.
Already, in some countries it is now common to be paid in digital currency. Now you can request to be paid in Bitcoin directly to your bitcoin wallet address. In South Africa, a local payment gateway provider www.payfast.co.za allows users to pay in Bitcoin, which it converts into ZAR. What NGOs need in this case is to have payfast on their websites.
Considering the fast growing gaming industry and the possibility of adopting Bitcoin as currency in due place of the actual use of digital tokens/coin, I foresee another development that will give another meaning to ‘gaming’ and surely raise few legal concerns in the fallout. But as game-players will become digital money-makers, there are chances to seeing the creation of a new group of donors, considering that very young players will soon be able to contribute or donate gained Bitcoins to causes of their choice.
So, despite challenges and threats from international financial institutions and many government policies, the digital currency still growing strong.
At the same time, critics caution against Bitcoin’s volatility as a major pitfall due to lack of existing formal financial market. However, criticisms about volatility are now being considered as exaggerated. There are strong indications to believe that Bitcoin risk is ‘tapering off’ as the industry is growing and the digital currency market liquidity improving.
Nowadays, it appears to me that innovative fundraising strategies need to be grounded at the core of nonprofits’ values if they have to survive given that fundraising agility will guide short-term and long-term organisation’s success.
In conclusion, with regard to entrepreneurial and risk taking abilities, like people, organisations have different skills and preferences. There are organisations that strive to start a trend, those that want to catch a trend, and last, those that observe and wait to embrace a trend if proven to be successful.
With the expansion of the Internet and digital technologies, millions of websites are created every year and billions users are being connected. The Internet has become an overcrowded world with opportunities and challenges. Consequently, the success within it depends on how creative and relevant one is in order to stand out among your peers or competitors.
Unless you try, you will not know which online fundraising strategy works for you. And, the earlier the adoption of a trend, the greater the reward.
- Adam Mukendi Ntala is advocacy and digital media consultant. Twitter: @Adam_McKendi. He formerly worked as a Digital Media Manager at SANGONeT.
Photo courtesy: Slash Gear.