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Freedom of Press Foundation Starts Accepting Crypto, Sees $550K Donation on First Day

Nonprofit organization the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) began accepting cryptocurrency donations June 18, opening its doors to Bitcoin and four altcoins.

FPF, which formed in 2012, aims to support and protect free speech in the media, as well as campaign through whistleblower projects and raise awareness of threats to media publications.

“Your support enables us to protect journalists and whistleblowers worldwide, and will help further projects like SecureDrop, the US Press Freedom Tracker, and the archival of threatened news outlets,” the donations page explains.

FPF lists addresses for five cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and ZCash – while officials say they will also consider donations in using other coins.

The move appeared to receive a warm reception in some circles, with decentralized message routing network Mainframe donating 1000 ETH ($542,000) to the FPF.

“Public advocacy becomes that much more powerful when coupled with innovation and better choices. Both organizations plan to work towards the mutually beneficial goal of tipping the scales in favor of the fight for freedom of information,” Mainframe wrote in a blog post explaining the impetus behind its decision.

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Freedom of the Press Foundation Now Accepts Donations in 5 Cryptos

The Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) now officially accepts donations made with cryptocurrencies, the non-profit announced Monday.

The move is “a natural fit” for the organization, which aims to support journalists reporting on issues within governments, said executive director Trevor Timm.

FPF – which will now accept bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, litecoin and zcash – currently has digital wallets available for direct donations, he said, although the aim is to ultimately utilize a payment processor to automatically convert the donations into fiat currency.

Decentralized technology is a tool that can help prevent online censorship, as well as prevent surveillance by certain parties, according to Timm. The decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies, in particular, can mitigate the risk of “financial censorship” by the relatively small number of traditional payment processors that currently hold a “monopoly” on fund transfers, he stated.

Timm told CoinDesk:

“If cryptocurrencies can lead to more awareness about anti-censorship, and also make it easier for potential supporters to support non-profits like Freedom of the Press Foundation, then I hope many other similar organizations follow suit in the coming months and years.”

“We live in a time when journalists around the world have never been at greater risk of surveillance, arrest, or worse, and it’s incredibly important that supporters of press freedom have all the available options to them to fight back,” he said.

Perhaps in recognition of that mission, blockchain startup Mainframe has already made the first crypto donation, sending 1,000 ether (around $498,000 at press time) to the foundation.

Timm said that the funds would allow the FPF, which notably has NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on its board, to expand its work, adding that “hopefully it might even inspire others to donate.”

Newspapers and chain image via Shutterstock

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UK Mosque Opens Crypto Donations in National First ‘Bitcoin Ramadan’

A UK mosque has broken with opinion and opted to accept cryptocurrency donations for this year’s Ramadan period, local media report this week.

The Shacklewell Lane Mosque in Dalston, East London, also known as Masjid Ramadan, partnered with local Blockchain startup Combo Innovation to set up a Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet for the Ramadan practice of Zakat, or almsgiving.

The UK’s only Turkish-owned mosque, Shacklewell Lane is going against the rulings of various Islamic scholars and the Turkish government, who previously determined cryptocurrency to be “incompatible” with Islam.

Interpretations are far from unanimous, however, with other sources suggesting cryptocurrency is indeed suitable for use by Muslims due to its global nature.

Gurmit Singh, CEO of Combo, which provides “Islamic compliant blockchain financial solutions,” is among those adhering to this more permissive stance.

“If Muslims, who make up a quarter of the world’s population, hold just 1 percent of bitcoins – or £1.04 bln ($1.39 bln) – then £26 mln ($34.6 mln) in Zakat contributions is due,” he told the Hackney Gazette, financially-able Muslims being obliged to donate 2.5% of their wealth during Ramadan.

“It’s likely the actual figure is much higher. Currently hardly any mosques or Islamic charities accept Zakat in cryptocurrency. They are potentially losing out on millions of pounds.”

The mosque hopes to raise around £10,000 ($13,300) for repairs to the building. So far, its Bitcoin address has received funds worth around $2000.

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Former Obama Aide Targeted by Anti-Bitcoin Political Ad for Accepting Crypto Donations

Democratic congressional candidate Brian Forde has been targeted by anti-crypto political advertising for accepting Bitcoin (BTC) donations to his campaign, VICE reported Tuesday, May 22.

Forde’s rival Dave Min, who is also running for the Democratic nomination for the upcoming congressional elections in California, circulated an ad suggesting that Forde’s donors are “Bitcoin speculators that oppose cracking down on drug deals and human trafficking.” In correspondence with VICE, Forde responded to the ad’s claims, saying:

“These comments about my supporters are sensationalist, wildly inaccurate, and in line with my opponent’s lack of understanding of the technology. If they were speculating they wouldn’t have donated to my campaign in Bitcoin. They didn’t HODL, they donated to my campaign in Bitcoin because they believe in the technology.”

Forde, who formerly advised the Obama administration on crypto and headed MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative, is a stalwart crypto advocate, leading Bloomberg to dub him “the crypto candidate for Congress.” According to Bloomberg, his campaign has attracted support from the likes of crypto community giants Mike Novogratz and the Winklevoss brothers. His opponent Min on the other hand is a former SEC attorney and current professor of law at the University of California, Irvine.

“While [Min’s] ad disparages a technology he clearly doesn’t understand, the United Nations uses it to address human trafficking,” Forde told Bloomberg, referring to a UN initiative for a blockchain-based digital identity system designed to combat child trafficking globally. “We need more rational scientists and technologists in congress armed with evidence-based policymaking, not politicians making irrational decisions based on their emotions,” he stressed.

As VICE notes, back in 2014 the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) ruled unanimously in favour of allowing political action committees to accept BTC donations, provided donors identify themselves. New Hampshire was the first US state to implement the FEC 2014 rulings, with Colorado suggesting it will follow suit just this week.

The FEC currently treats Bitcoin contributions to campaigns as as in-kind donations, meaning that candidates have 10 days to put the BTC raised into their official campaign depository. As Cointelegraph has reported, the FEC has been assessing whether to amend its regulations so that virtual currencies would in future be treated like cash.

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IBM, Global Citizen Seek Blockchain Solutions for Humanitarian Aid

IBM and Global Citizen are issuing a challenge to the world’s developers: use blockchain to revolutionize how donations are made to humanitarian causes.

The tech giant and the anti-poverty campaign movement are partnering on “Challenge Accepted,” inspired by the United Nations’ Envision 2030 initiative, which aims to improve the lives of impoverished and at-risk people.

Developers taking part in Challenge Accepted will use IBM’s Blockchain Platform Starter Plan to build a network that encompasses all aspects of the donation process.

There’s a gamification aspect as well – along the way, developers who perform certain actions can earn “points” that they can then redeem for access to IBM experts, for example.

Stepping back, the UN and other assistance groups have previously explored using blockchain to track aid to impoverished areas. Cryptocurrencies, too, have served as a platform for facilitating donations to a range of causes, from clean water access to the provision of electricity for a school in South Africa.

And in what is perhaps the most notable trial of its kind to date, the World Food Programme (WFP), the food assistance arm of the United Nations, tapped the ethereum blockchain to authenticate and record disbursement transactions.

More than money

Simon Moss, a co-founder of Global Citizen, argued in a blog post published Friday that the technology has the potential to change the face of humanitarian aid.

And it’s not just the money that would be better accounted for, he said – organizations can use a blockchain to improve transparency in the flow of goods being delivered as well.

“Blockchain can provide clarity on not only who is donating, but how money and supplies flow through organizations that provide aid – such as tracking a gallon of water purchased by an organization to the location where it was delivered,” he wrote.

Kathryn Harrison, who leads product management for the IBM Blockchain platform, told CoinDesk that the initiative grew out of internal conversations earlier this year about the “opportunities to use this technology in areas that we can do some pretty substantial social good.”

“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity to help engaged citizens see how they can build something that’s going to drive accountability and improvement in the [non-governmental organization] sector,” Harrison said.

A link in the chain

Harrison also framed the challenge – which runs from May 15 to July 14 – as part of the wider work being done at IBM on the blockchain front.

“We’re focused on so many different types of use cases. We look at food safety, we look at microfinance, we look things like the environment and carbon credits and energy savings,” she explained. “And this just seems like another opportunity to empower developers to put their skills to use for good.”

At the end of the challenge, five winners will be chosen from the pool of contestants. Harrison said some of the projects may be listed in the IBM Blockchain Platform, opening up those templates to other users – and winners could potentially take their projects further through IBM’s Garage workspaces. The winners will also receive tickets to Global Citizen’s Global Citizen Music Festival in September.

The challenge is an opportunity for developers looking at aid-focused uses of blockchain to advance their ideas – but as Moss contended in his blog post, there’s a bit more at stake here.

He concluded:

“This is a bold reinvention of how philanthropy and donors interact.”

Humanitarian aid image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Pineapple Fund Writes Farewell Post, Reports That All Funds Have Been Donated

Pineapple Fund, a Bitcoin-only charity, has reportedly accomplished its ultimate mission and donated 5104 bitcoins (BTC) or $55 mln to various nonprofit organizations, the fund’s creator wrote in a farewell post on Reddit May 10.  

In December, when the BTC price approached its record high of $20,000, an anonymous donor who goes by the nickname Pine set a goal to give away 5057 bitcoins worth around $86 mln at the time. The amount turned out to be worth $31 mln less than they had initially anticipated due to the dramatic drop of the crypto market in early 2018. The donor later described the market downturn in terms of a cryptocurrencybubble”.

“Timed with the 2017 crypto bubble, 5104 BTC was turned into $55 million for charities. I’m happy and proud of the impact that will come, mostly thanks to the amazing charities and the dedicated people behind them.”

As the donor reported on Pineapple Fund’s website, the fund donated $55,750,000 to 60 charities around the world, supporting a variety of projects from clean water supply in sub-Saharan Africa to digital rights protection.

In January, Pineapple Fund announced the donation of $4 mln to the non-profit organization Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) to apply MDMA as a psychotherapy treatment for PTSD patients. In April, MAPS director Brad Burge reported the drug was showing “promising results for treating PTSD, claiming that the new treatment “involves only 3 administrations of a drug that’s been around for over 100 years.”

In February, UNICEF launched a charity drive that asked PC gamers to mine Ethereum (ETH) with the unused capacity of their high level graphics cards. Gamers could turn on the UNICEF ETH mining program when they were away from their computers, and the mined proceeds would go to support humanitarian aid for Syrian children.

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UNICEF Is Mining Crypto to Raise Funds for Children

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is seeking to harness supporters’ computers to raise donations via cryptocurrency mining.

To that end, the organization has launched “The Hope Page” – a website that mines cryptocurrency with the help of visitors’ computer processing power. The non-profit described in a statement that site will “allow Australians to provide help and hope to vulnerable children by simply opening the page while they are online”, ITnews Australia stated.

According to the website, Hope Page allows visitors to select how much processing power they want to contribute to the mining process. The longer they stay on the site, the more cryptocurrency is mined.

UNICEF states:

“Mining is perfectly safe for your computer. If you’re ever worried about power consumption, turn down the amount of processing power you’re donating.”

Any cryptocurrency mined is turned into fiat currency and donated to UNICEF Australia to be used for help vulnerable children worldwide with life-saving supplies such as safe drinking water, food and vaccines.

The browser miner is powered by an opt-in version of the Coinhive API, AuthedMine, and mines the monero cryptocurrency.

According to Jennifer Tierney, director of fundraising and communications for UNICEF Australia, the organization had been seeking to use emerging technologies to raise awareness about current humanitarian crises and collect donations to support affected children.

At press time, over 1,600 people were seen donating computer power to aid the organization.

UNICEF tent image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Ripple Gives Away 'The Largest Donation Of Cryptocurrency' To Support Public Schools

Blockchain-based payments network Ripple recently donated $29 mln of its own cryptocurrency XRP to support US public schools, fulfilling over 35,000 funding requests from teachers via DonorsChoose charity fund, as reported by ABC7 March 28.

According to CNBC, DonorsChoose will convert the donations into US dollars over the course of two weeks in order to avoid the volatility of the cryptocurrency market, and to comply with the company’s policy to sell the donated currency immediately.

The donated money will be used to equip more than 30,000 classrooms across all 50 states; “approximately one million students are receiving books, school supplies, technology, field trips, and other resources vital for learning through DonorsChoose.org,” Ripple said in a public statement March 27.

According to founder and CEO of DonorsChoose Charles Best, who sent a donation request to Ripple, the move would be “the largest donation of cryptocurrency.”

San Francisco-based Ripple’s XRP altcoin token, currently trading at $0.53, is the third largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, which amounts to over $20 bln at press time, according to the data from Coinmarketcap.

Ripple is not the first company to donate cryptocurrency to charity. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Ethereum (ETH) cofounder Vitalik Buterin partnered with decentralized payment network OmiseGO to donate $1 mln in ERC20 tokens to the African charity GiveDirectly.

Earlier in February, Buterin also donated $2.4 mln worth of Ethereum to the SENS Research Foundation, a charity funding research for treating age-related diseases.

In December, Bitcoin-exclusive Pineapple Fund donated $1 mln in Bitcoin (BTC) to the Internet Archive. Pineapple Fund aims to give away $86 mln worth of Bitcoin in total to various nonprofit organizations.

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Crypto Is Now Fastest Growing Donation for Fidelity Charity Arm

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have proved quite charitable, at least as far as Fidelity Charitable is concerned.

Announced today, the global charity revealed it has received $69 million in cryptocurrency donations in 2017, making it the fastest-growing asset type accepted by the firm. According to Fidelity Charitable’s annual report, the funds, which included donations in bitcoin and ether, came from 169 different donors.

The donations represent a tenfold increase since the organization started accepting bitcoin in late 2015, a figure that grew 140 percent faster than the other options (such as real estate, shares of LLCs and bags of grain) that Fidelity Charitable accepts as donations, according to the company’s vice president Amy Pirozzolo.

Pirozzolo told CoinDesk:

“It is one of the fastest growing assets that we are seeing wanting to be contributed to charity. Many people who own bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency do want to be philanthropic.”

But if that comes as a surprise, perhaps it shouldn’t – donations have been one of the key use cases from cryptocurrency since the beginning.

In 2013, non-profit BitGive began helping other non-profits accept donations in bitcoin and shortly after, a handful of major names announced they would trial the idea. The following year, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase launched its own service designed to support non-profits.

Now, a cottage industry of consultants like Man on a Mission Consulting have popped up to streamline the process of allowing charities to accept this new type of value.

According to Man on a Mission founder Paul Lamb, “I think there’s a strong desire to accept not only bitcoin, but other cryptocurrencies as well, so it’s really a matter of building it and providing a menu of options from fiat to the wide range of cryptocurrencies.”

Explosive growth

But Fidelity Charitable is also an early adopter of sorts.

The charity arm of the multinational investment firm first started accepting cryptocurrency through Coinbase’s charity service in November 2015, but until this year, it didn’t really see the funding mechanism take off. During 2016, its first year full-year of acceptance, crypto donations accounted for only $7 million.

However, throughout the first half of 2017, the firm engaged in a marketing campaign designed to increase the visibility of the service, resulting in 40 articles and a total of $11 million-worth of donations, according to Pirozzolo, who is also the head of Fidelity Charitable’s marketing efforts.

“As that took hold – and we created a web page for people to understand how you can donate this, and started buying paid search behind this, and got more mainstream media coverage and more social coverage – this whole thing really took off,” she said.

By November, the total donated had doubled to $22 million, momentum that coincided with a tweet that same month from early bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen, who said he had used the platform.

While it’s impossible to correlate funding changes directly to the tweet, the following month, Fidelity received an additional $36 million-worth of crypto donations.

Tax incentive

Still, all this isn’t to say that more traditional donation types are at risk of being overshadowed by blockchain-based assets anytime soon.

According to a statement from the company, the cryptocurrency asset class falls within the broader category of non-publicly traded assets, which accounted for $1 billion dollars-worth of donations last year. That, in turn, fell within an even broader pool of $4.5 billion-worth of total donations.

The biggest draw to Fidelity Charitable’s platform is what’s called an investor-managed fund, which lets donors give away assets including cryptocurrency without having to pay capital gains taxes.

The result is that the total amount received by the organization typically increases relative to the donor’s tax bracket. And given that a total of 127,000 non-profits received funds from Fidelity last year, this extra money could eventually make an even bigger impact.

Pirozzolo concluded:

“This is a great win-win for both [donors] as well as the charities.”

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Coinbase.

Coins in a jar via Shutterstock

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