Bitcoin and Charities Were Made For Each Other, They Just Don't Know It Yet

On the evening of July 14th at 6:30pm, I am going to give a talk on the subject of Bitcoin and philanthropic giving. It will take place at NYU’s Eisner and Lubin Auditorium and we are selling tickets to the event (in bitcoin of course) to raise money for charity.

Seats are $25 and they are first come first serve. There are 300 of them. VIP seats, which, in addition to being the best seats in the house, will also come with some goodie, are $100. If you have the extra cash and are feeling generous, please step up for the VIP seats. There are 75 of them.

We hope to raise $15,000 via this event and all the proceeds will go to CSNYC‘s programs to bring computer science education to the NYC public school system.

I was inspired to do this talk because our portfolio companies Coinbase and CrowdRise have teamed up to bring bitcoin to the world of philanthropic giving. You can see this partnership in action on the CrowdRise page for the talk.

This talk brings together three of the things I have been spending most of my time on over the past year (crowdfunding, bitcoin, and philanthropy). If you want to hear me talk about the things that get me up and out of bed in the morning, come to this.

In addition to highlighting the possibilities for charities that Bitcoin opens up, I believe this event will be a great place for Bitcoin enthusiasts to meet each other. I’ve agreed to sponsor up to 60 NYU students and faculty who are working on bitcoin projects to attend the event. The NYU bitcoin community is really taking off right now and I would like to help galvanize that. And the entire HackNY summer intern class will be there. These are some of the best and brightest computer science students in the country who are spending the summer in NYC working in startups.

If you work in a charitable organization and want to understand how Bitcoin can help turbocharge your fundraising, or if you are a Bitcoin enthusiast, I think you will enjoy hearing the talk and meeting like minded folks. To claim a ticket please make your donation in Bitcoin here.

I hope to see you there.

PS – If you can’t attend, you can still donate here and check a box saying that you can’t attend but you want to support the event and the cause.

#hacking philanthropy

Comments (Archived):

    1. fredwilson

      fantastic. i will mention wollit in my talk. thanks!!!

  1. jason wright

    and for the avc diaspora how about a livestream with bitwall?

    1. fredwilson

      we are working on that but don’t have the details set so i did not want to promise it just yet

      1. Nathan O'Hanlon

        Any updates on this? We would be keen to view it in London.

        1. fredwilson

          we are going to videotape it and post it to the internet, but we are not going to livestream it

          1. Nathan O'Hanlon

            OK thanks!

  2. awaldstein

    I would love to attend and support this Fred.’Unfortunately’ gonna visit friends in Santa Ynez and drink some local (natural) Pinot on that day.But–I suggest adding a way for those who don’t attend to contribute. I’m glad to support even though I can’t attend.

    1. fredwilson

      i will add something to the postthe “donate” flow supports that alreadyi just did not make it clear

  3. JimHirshfield

    “… some goodie”Details available?

    1. fredwilson

      TBDbut probably hats t-shirts or something like that

      1. JimHirshfield

        Sounds like a swanky costume.

  4. JimHirshfield

    In 2000 I started a company that had a charitable component to it. Non-profits were elated that there were donations. But evidently they couldn’t figure out how to complete their end of the PayPal transaction. Money left unclaimed. I hope they’re more capable 14 years later.

    1. fredwilson

      we will see

    2. Matt Zagaja

      Unfortunately I get the impression that many non-profits are unable to compete for the kind of talent they need because they are reluctant to pay the market rate salaries for the skilled professionals.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Yeah, there’s that.

  5. William Mougayar

    Yes, it’s an IN and OUT thing. If you receive bitcoins, you should be able to donate them easily, and charities are a natural destination. They should all have Donate Bitcoin buttons.Another trend that helps is to make Bitcoin tipping easy on the social web. E.g. ChangeTip allows you to tip with a tweet, and you can donate your tips received to a charity.

  6. pointsnfigures

    One fly in the ointment is what happens to the charity getting the bitcoin? I’d recommend they turn them into hard govt backed currency the moment they get them. On the flip side, if I am writing off my charitable deduction, how do I value it? What if the value I think I donated at is different than it’s redeemed for? Do we use the GAAP principles of donating stock to charities to account for the value of the donation?

    1. fredwilson

      coinbase does that automatically for all merchants that use their platform they will do it for charities too

      1. David Gobel

        On bitcoin charitable deduction basis, wouldn’t “gifts of appreciated stock” rules apply here where there are capital gains involved?

        1. Matt Zagaja

          I would think so, but to get an advantage I think you have to hold bitcoin for a long time. http://www.programforgiving

    2. Jon Michael Miles

      It always catches my eye when I see “100 dollars worth of Bitcoin” The statement itself has a paradox in it. As the Federal Reserve is quantitatively easing money to the tune of billions it’s really about which illusory economy do you buy into. Dollars are just more dominant – at this point.

    3. LE

      On the flip side, if I am writing off my charitable deduction, how do I value it? What if the value I think I donated at is different than it’s redeemed for? What would I do? Go with the higher value and memorialize what your reasoning was for doing so. Or of course you could ask your accountant go with the less advantageous value and pay more taxes. [1] Your choice.You see you use the “rule of stick”. You say “what happens if I do it this way rather than that way?”. According to the “rule of stick” nothing happens unless it raises a big red flag and you are audited. You also most certainly have a leg to stand on no matter what position you took. Chance of getting audited is not 100% so it’s worth the risk imho. And that assumes you are wrong which is not certain.My mom’s accountant was waxing back and forth about the basis of some property that was purchased many years ago. Wasting all sorts of time. Not sure if he was billing for that time or not. Part of the “problem” was that my mom couldn’t find the original paperwork (from the 70’s) and was having a kiniption and wasting all this time over that. From her memory she had a value that she remembered that they paid for the property. I said “just go with that value, what’s going to happen?” (My mom is in her late 80’s). Rule of stick. What’s the probability of someone raising an issue and if they do raise an issue you deal with it at that point.[1] Yes I know this type of deduction can be a red flag for an audit.

    4. Matt Zagaja

      That’s largely moot on your part if you purchased the bitcoin. It’s a simple tax issue:If you pay $100 for bitcoin you have $100 basis in it.If you donate it and value that at $200, then you can deduct $200 from your income, but you also realize a gain of $100 in your bitcoin asset. So the net impact is a $100 deduction.

      1. fredwilson

        Yup. That’s one of the points I plan to talk about in my July 14th talk

  7. Peter

    A post on BTC to an international audience. Yet all amounts are in $. What does that tell us about the “bitcoin is/is not […] discussion?

    1. Sergey Nazarov

      Leading fiat currencies like the dollar are more stable, buy Bitcoin is a better method of digital/online payments; it has zero fraud…Displaying an accurate price in BTC at any one point would require a live feed averaged across the top exchanges, while displaying the dollar amount gives someone a stable amount which they can then use to calculate the required Bitcoins at the exact time of their purchase..As Bitcoin becomes less volatile in price this will become a non-issue.

  8. Rohan

    I just co-founded a charity with friends 6 months ago, Fred, to help underprivileged kids in India. We’ve been working hard on it.. but, my god, payments is a freaking nightmare.There’s all sorts of regulations against conventional foreign money. It’s hard to move money around when we run campaigns.This is a big issue for us and I’m sure is the case for numerous others..

      1. Rohan

        not good, it is.

  9. Richard

    Is the military and or department of states using Bitcoin?

    1. curtissumpter

      I don’t know about those specific departments but according to Bloomberg the US Marshals Service auctioned off 30,000 BitCoin at a approx. value of 17.4 MM acquired from the Silk Road raid so it’s a de facto recognition of the value of BitCoin by the USG.

      1. Matt Zagaja

        I would not read too much into that.

  10. Mario Cantin

    I’ve had a powerful epiphany about charities, interestingly, just prior to discovering Bitcoin. I wrote a Medium article on it titled, “Donating Money Directly without ‘filters’ Is a Powerful Experience” I hope it doesn’t come across as shameless promotion. I genuinely think that Bitcoin will make that type of experience commonplace and turn the charity world on its head — and that’s why I’m sharing it.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s pretty much what my talk is going to be abouta mind meld!!!

      1. Mario Cantin


  11. Guest

    Just the thing to get stragglers like me signed up for Coinbase. Unfortunately they can’t verify my Visa card…

    1. Nick Tomaino

      Liran– Nick from Coinbase here. Really sorry to hear about that, can you please send me your email address ([email protected])? We will make sure you are taken care of.

      1. fredwilson

        thanks Nick

        1. Guest

          Everything resolved, thanks for taking care of it Nick! Looking forward to the chat on the 14th.

        2. David Gobel

          Dave Gobel of Methuselah Foundation here. We are experimenting with bitcoin, but need a feature where a donor can click a button to make monthly indefinite donations. We have a committed donor group called The300 who give $85.00 a month, and having them go through the pain and suffering of remembering to donate every month is just a non-starter. We’ve been using Paypal with this feature since 2005. I’d love to come to your talk but I have a previous engagement on the 14th. Will your presentation be watchable later? I’d be happy to donate for that privilege 🙂

          1. David Gobel

            heh – Seth King just contacted me to let me know that the recurring donation feature does in fact exist. Great!

          2. Nick Tomaino

            Feel free to email me at [email protected]. I’d be more than happy to talk through our recurring payments API and what it would look like for Methuselah

  12. LE

    This talk brings together three of the things I have been spending most of my time on over the past year (crowdfunding, bitcoin, and philanthropy).Don’t forget marketing. You spend a good portion of your time on marketing? My guess is more than on philanthropy. (Repeat: “my guess”). For that matter I would put in under both marketing as well as research (or maybe even education). [1][1] Not to mention that none of the three items would exist without the marketing.

    1. fredwilson


  13. Sergey Nazarov

    Charitable crowdfunding using Bitcoin was disucussed most recently by the larger cryptocommunity at this past weekend. The general gist across the panels was…1. It is great because charities can accept charitable donations anonymously which means people can give to the causes they believe in without it affecting their livelihood/other interests.2. It is difficult for charities to account for donations in Bitcoins if an audit happens and charities need an easy solution to account for Bitcoin donations.3. There is still a perception problem for accepting Bitcoin from larger more conservative donors who watch the mass media because the “silkroad effect” still rubs off on cryptocurrency in general.Cryptocurrency can/will change the way charities and causes accept donations in countries without developed banking infrastructures. Early adoption by leading edge charities in developed markets like the US will definitely help though, I hope some of the folks that run those attend this event!

  14. Ed B

    Its hard to give btc to charity when so few accept them…somebody needs to create a bitcoin (and credit card) payment aggregator specific to charities…there are just way too many charities that each have to do separate card-accepting contracts. Some known entity (like CharityNavigator or Guidestar) should sponsor the solution, to add credibility. Put the checkout process in the cloud so no charity needs to worry about PCI or just what to do with Bitcoin.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s the business our portfolio company CrowdRise is inthis year, they will help charities raise over $100mmthat’s why its a big deal that all the charities are on their platform can now accept bitcoin

  15. LE

    Apparently Joe Biden doesn’t interact much with banks:”I don’t own a single stock or bond. … I have no savings accounts,” he said.…I say it’s a perfect publicity generator [1] for coinbase to offer to setup a bitcoin account for Joe Biden saying they have someone anonymously willing to put $100,000 of bitcoin in that account. Obviously he can’t accept but ….[1] Stunt. Laughing? I’ve done this type of thing before getting front page WSJ mention.

  16. Matt A. Myers

    Bitcoin in its current existence shouldn’t exist.Gaining money simply for demand increasing isn’t how a transactional mechanism naturally would or should work. It’s not reasonable or logical.People accepting Bitcoin in exchange for services are giving value to Bitcoin. People paying for money for Bitcoin aren’t.If people were actually legitimately “paying” money for Bitcoin then they’d be exchanging money for Bitcoin – meaning that the USD or whatever currency being paid would be destroyed, not ending up in someone else’s pocket.Charities should be made aware of this. It’s interesting to see that they would be an early adopter – as they’re generally desperate for money from anywhere they can get it. Yes, as long as someone is willing to pay USD/other currencies for the Bitcoin or accept services, it holds value – but once the correct digital currency is in place it will quickly replace Bitcoin, and their Bitcoin will only be valuable to others who have a deep vested interest – and there really might not be enough of them.I imagine there are people just waiting for the moment people are waiting to sell their Bitcoin stock right before it crashes – and others slowly trying to collect $100s of millions from the Bitcoin that they didn’t do anything for.

  17. Pawel Turczynowicz

    @fredwilson:disqus is it any acceptable way to get to a random meeting?I feel terribly ashamed for approaching you this way, but I am in a position ofhaving (in my opinion) the best-of-the-season business project and notknowing anybody who knows somebody who knows you. While reading yourblog and reviewing your portfolio you seem the perfect match. Just to beton the project and not spend weeks on trying to middleman you, I offer to pay $5k for a charity fund you chose, if you don’t find my project the most compelling you heard of this year.If you agree take to this bet, I jump on the first plane from Poland to finalize it.Transfer to trusted account before buying a ticket and dedicating your precious time/attention acceptable.

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t take meetings unless I’m interested in the business. Send me an email and explain the business and what the status is

      1. Pawel Turczynowicz

        Thank you for reply. Please find it in your Facebook spambox.

        1. fredwilson


          1. Pawel Turczynowicz

            Since you are not publishing your e-mail address and do Facebook profile I sent you the message there. I am aware it is becoming looking really weird from your perspective. But please check on the possibility to have an interesting meeting starting with weird approach.

          2. fredwilson

            There is a contact me link on the about page of this blog that will get an email into my inbox

  18. Krishna

    Not related to this topic, but an amazing snapshot of the emotional roller coaster ride that founders with failed start-ups go through..

  19. David J. Neff

    My friend Jason Shim and I are doing a series of talks on this very subject. From an industry partnering with a nonprofit perspective. Our first webinar here:…And our journal article here:

    1. fredwilson

      that’s greati will check it out

  20. JimHirshfield

    not encouraging.