Established in 2013 by Connie Gallippi, the recognized 501c3 nonprofit BitGive is known for its work with projects such as Save the Children, The Water Project, and Medic Mobile. The group is also in building a Donation Transparency Platform for nonprofits as a “Charity 2.0” project that aims to revolutionize philanthropy. Gallippi chatted with Bitcoin.com about the many initiatives the nonprofit is working with.
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Bitcoin and charity giving go hand in hand. With its decentralized borderless nature, people from anywhere in the world can crowdfund a cause or help someone in need instantly. The nonprofit BitGive is one of the first well-known charitable organizations within the Bitcoin industry that has done a lot of good for people who could use a helping hand.
Alongside all these efforts BitGive just launched its Sustaining Donor Program, which has just acquired two donors. The first two sustaining donors were the hardware wallet company Keep Key and an individual donor Mark Buettner. As well as the current status of the organization Gallippi gives us an overview of past accomplishments and how she got into cryptocurrency. She is a firm believer in the power of Bitcoin and has seen with her own eyes how the protocol can help people in need all across the globe.
Bitcoin.com (BC) When did you first get into Bitcoin?
Connie Gallippi (CG): I had heard of Bitcoin probably back in 2011 or so and was following it, but wasn’t really engaged in the community at that time. I became more directly involved after attending the Bitcoin Foundation’s first conference, which was in May of 2013 in San Jose, CA. It was at that event that I saw a personal and professional connection to the technology and dove in head first!
BC: What gave you the idea to start BitGive?
CG: I had already known the potential for Bitcoin as a game changer on many levels; and after attending the first real Bitcoin conference in 2013, and seeing the level of energy, intelligence, and investment funds behind it, I knew it was going to take off. I saw the potential for Bitcoin to be very significant – akin to the next .com boom – and wanted to find a way to leverage the technology and the industry itself for charitable causes on a global scale. The potential for this technology is off the charts. By having an organization that is focused on leveraging that potential and the industry’s success to support nonprofits and charitable causes, we can move the needle on some of the pressing issues facing the world today.
I think the most revolutionary aspect of Bitcoin’s technology allows funds to be sent securely to anyone anywhere at any time – safe, direct transactions as significantly lower costs.
BC: Can you tell our readers about some of the charitable programs BitGive has helped in the past?
CG: Save the Children was our first campaign in 2013. We raised funds for their Philippines Typhoon Relief effort and built a relationship with them over time. Through this relationship, we ushered Save the Children into the Bitcoin community. They now accept bitcoin directly via BitPay, participated in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl in 2014, and continue to be a strong nonprofit advocate for Bitcoin.
Our largest project to date was in raising funds to build a water well with The Water Project, which was completed in March of 2015 in western Kenya. The well serves the Shisango Girls Secondary School, as well as the neighboring primary school and surrounding community of over 500 people. I had the pleasure of visiting the school and the project, and it was the most moving and inspirational time in my life. We have an amazing short 3-minute video of the project that everyone has absolutely loved, please check it out!
Our last campaign was for Medic Mobile, an organization working in 23 countries worldwide supporting volunteer health workers with mobile technology and open source tools. They have a team in Nepal who were unharmed in the 2015 earthquakes and have been working hard on relief efforts. As part of rebuilding and strengthening the health systems after the earthquakes, our funds have gone towards furnishing 650 cell phones to volunteer health workers that serve in a new Antenal Program in the Dhading District of Nepal.
BC: Can you tell us about the BitGive Donation Transparency Platform and how that program is going?
CG: BitGive is growing along with the industry and the technology itself. With a few years under our belt, we felt we were ready to take on a more technical project and really dig into Bitcoin and blockchain technology and its applications for nonprofits. We launched our Charity 2.0 Initiative mid last year, which is focused on leveraging the technology for nonprofits, building on the expanding bitcoin infrastructure in the developing world, and advocating for more investment in bitcoin infrastructure and applications in emerging economies.
This new platform will truly revolutionize philanthropy.
Our first endeavor is to build a Donation Transparency Platform for nonprofits. We are currently building the MVP (minimum viable product) in partnership with The Water Project, and BitPesa, who will provide the last-mile conversion of the funds.
This new platform will truly revolutionize philanthropy. For the first time, donors and the public will be empowered to simply and easily trace nonprofit transactions on a public ledger in real time to see how funds are spent, ensure they reach their final destination, and track the results generated from contributions. The focus of the product is to make it easy and fun for donors and nonprofits to have accountability and share results. Future phases of the project will build out a broadly-applicable platform, data analysis layers, feedback loops, reporting mechanisms, and more.
Development is underway, but we are still fundraising to complete the MVP and would love to have more support! We have raised over 75% of the budget and are looking to close that final gap and raise the remaining $7,500. Anyone who wishes to learn more and support the project can visit our website and contact us with any questions or for more detailed information. All donations from US taxpayers are tax deductible, as we are a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, the first government registered Bitcoin nonprofit.
BC: You spoke at the 3rd Annual Latin American Bitcoin Conference in Mexico City, and a crypto-comic was sold for a large sum of bitcoin during the event. Can you tell our readers about that experience?
CG: This was my third year speaking at the Latin American Bitcoin Conference, and it has always been my favorite event with a very special group of people gathered together for all the right reasons. This year, there was the added excitement of BitGive’s two charity auctions where we raised over $10,000* total!
First, we auctioned off a limited-edition Bitcoin watch donated by Rocelo Lopes (CoinBR), and the proceeds of about $2,000* from winning bidder Pablo Gonzalez (Bitso) went to a local charity in Mexico City, Fundación Parlas, to whom we were connected by Jose Rodriguez (Bitso). The funds were processed through BitPay with the help of Alberto Vega, and Bitso converted them to Mexican pesos for the charity.
The second item was a one-of-a-kind “Hunt for Satoshi Nakamoto” comic book that was hand signed by over 150 Bitcoin pioneers that sold for about $8,000*. Thanks to Juan Llanos, who traveled for over a year carrying the book and obtaining signatures from all the big names in Bitcoin. The two final bidders Rodolfo Andragnes (Bitcoin Argentina) and Sebastian Wain (CoinFabrik) were in a bidding war and decided to jointly own the book, and each pay their top bid, raising twice as much for BitGive! This was the inaugural donation that kicked off our fundraising round for the Donation Transparency Platform.
*[Values are approximate, as bids and donations were made in bitcoin.]
The amount of support and enthusiasm we received from the community was extremely rewarding and inspiring! We were so appreciative of the laBITconf conference organizers led by Rodolfo Andragnes to embrace our mission and organize these events to support us. We thank the entire community for participating in and spreading the word about the charity auctions, our auction item donors and volunteers, and of course to the winning bidders!
Ultimately, as the industry matures, we are the Bitcoin and Blockchain philanthropic foundation poised to represent the industry as it desires to give back.
BC: What does Bitcoin do for crowdfunding and charity in your opinion?
CG: I think the most revolutionary aspect of Bitcoin’s technology allows funds to be sent securely to anyone anywhere at any time – safe, direct transactions as significantly lower costs. For nonprofits working overseas, this is a tremendous revolution. We can move money to where the need is without getting bogged down in the many steps. Not only does the traditional system take a long time, but each step during the process takes a cut of the funds in fees and exposes the transaction to liabilities and potential fraud.
Peer-to-peer transactions anytime, anywhere allow us to access the most remote places of the world directly with aid and support. Of course, the technology is still new and important pieces of the infrastructure are not yet in place in most emerging countries; however, in some key places where we do have liquidity today for the last mile, we will be able to reach the need – directly. As this infrastructure is built out, a global donor market is unleashed, as is access to send donations to all corners of the world.
In addition to direct access and reduced fees, wait times, and liabilities; the Bitcoin blockchain provides for transparency and accountability. These features are the focus of the Donation Transparency Platform. The platform will bring those attributes to the surface and make it easy and fun for donors to see how their contributions are spent and the ultimate outcome they helped to achieve.
BC: Do you follow the industry news? What’s your opinion of the Bitcoin environment at the moment?
CG: I have followed the industry news closely over the past three years, and there is always something exciting happening in Bitcoin. I think that the industry is evolving and maturing with time, but there is still a long road ahead. There are some solid industry players with experience and poise that have been around since the beginning and provide some professionalism and maturity to the industry. As an industry insider and someone who came to this new space with 14 years of previous experience, I see a unique dynamic when it comes to the environment in this community, and I hope the solid professional players balance out some of the less admirable attributes.
The industry gets in its own way more than anything else. If there were more a community focus, we would get further faster. Ultimately, the technology itself is so revolutionary that it will prevail and have sweeping impacts, it is only yet to be seen who will be at the forefront – our own industry pioneers and leaders who blazed this trail, or the traditional players who leap frog us while we flounder about.
BC: What’s the overall mission for BitGive in the future?
CG: As the flagship nonprofit organization for Bitcoin and Blockchain, we aim to leverage the technology and the industry to help nonprofits succeed, ultimately driving more impact across the globe through charitable organizations. Our early-stage work has matched the scale of our resources, and the status of the industry as a whole, and thus has been focused on smaller-scale projects. Ultimately, as the industry matures, we are the Bitcoin and Blockchain philanthropic foundation poised to represent the industry as it desires to give back. It was envisioned as somewhat of a Gates Foundation but instead for the Bitcoin industry as a whole and focused on leveraging the technology as well as making financial contributions to nonprofits around the world.
Thank you, Connie, for talking with us and letting us know first hand how Bitcoin and charitable giving is the wave of the future. Good luck with future endeavors.
What do you think about cryptocurrency and nonprofits? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via BitGive