Has Cryptocurrency’s Time Arrived for Nonprofits?

Technology continues to change, but nonprofits invariably struggle with finding the proper role for technology in their fundraising programs.

Sixteen years ago, when we first launched our strategic marketing and fundraising agency, Dunham+Company, many nonprofits were deep in the first wave of the digital revolution. In addition to raising donor support through traditional channels like direct mail, radio, television, and the telephone, nonprofits and churches had to face the reality that their constituencies were increasingly living (and giving) online.

To engage supporters effectively meant organizations were forced to do more than dabble with websites, email, and social media. Instead they needed to “move in” to those technology spaces, understand and adapt to them, and leverage their many advantages and efficiencies.

As the topic of cryptocurrency becomes part of mainstream conversation in America, I see a correlation to the early days of online giving and the questions organizations are asking themselves today:

• What the heck is cryptocurrency?

• Is this new opportunity real? Is it safe?

• Should we participate? If so, when?

• Will we be able to use this to increase donations for our organization?

Broadly defined, cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses encryption for security to issue and transfer units of currency independent of a central bank. Like any financial instrument, it poses both positive opportunities for the exchange of value between consumers and organizations, and provides yet another platform for misuse.

Potential benefits for churches and nonprofits are lower financial processing fees, greater participation from wealthy donors and overseas supporters worldwide, and quick, efficient transactions.

Conversely, possible risks like currency volatility, lack of regulation, and cyber security pose practical issues for consideration when determining if and when your organization should be working towards having the capacity to receive cryptocurrency donations or in exchange for products and services.

As Dunham+Company’s Chief Strategist of Social Media+Innovation, Nils Smith, unpacks in his book, Crypto for Good, cryptocurrency is likely to first be widely accepted in third world countries and places where established currencies aren’t stable. Additionally, in time, cryptocurrency may bridge the gap between supporters and organizations around the globe that can accomplish impactful work, making wealth transfer quick, easy, and efficient.

Currently, several U.S.-based nonprofits and ministries are successfully accepting donations via cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Other organizations are developing robust exchanges and platforms to help facilitate the acceptance of cryptocurrency as seamlessly as U.S. dollars.

Is it time for your organization to move quickly and prepare to accept cryptocurrency? Possibly.

One thing is certain, cryptocurrency isn’t merely an interesting idea. It’s not a flash-in-the-pan financial trend. While not made of physical material like coins and paper money, cryptocurrency is real and it is coming to the marketplace.

Now is the time for forward-thinking organizations to become educated on the risks and rewards of engaging cryptocurrency.

The team and I at Dunham+Company will continue to run before our partners to assess their practical applications of new communications platforms and technologies that will help connect them with constituents, customers, and donors that support them.

I look forward to sharing tips, trends, and practical insights from our real-world work about this and other strategic opportunities in future features.

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