Q&A: Cryptocurrency and Your Nonprofit: Exploring New Giving Options
Last month we hosted a webinar in partnership with CampaignCounsel.org and Engiven. It was an energetic discussion with James Lawrence and Carlyn Schulzke. We had a lot of fantastic questions roll in throughout and we were not able to get to all of them during the live session. James and Carlyn have taken the time to provide answers. Please find them below.
Missed the live webinar? Watch the recording here! (Bonus, this session is worth 1 CFRE point!)
What is the benefit of accepting crypto? It’s a new asset class and many crypto holders are looking to donate a portion of their holdings to benefit charities and to receive the tax benefits of donating an appreciated asset.
If a donor donates crypto through a DAF and it is exchanged for USD – does the organization know that the donation was once crypto? That would depend on your relationship with the DAF. Because the gift is technically donated to the DAF, your organization would receive a cash grant. If the DAF discloses to you that it originated as crypto, that would be their prerogative.
How do you do due diligence checks on donors who give through crypto? In general, crypto donors are not subject to KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements before donating. However, Engiven limits anonymous donations to $1,000 to avoid any potential issues with the donor’s intentions or how they first acquired the asset. Engiven also employs a technology called Chainalysis, which endeavors to analyze the wallet from which the donation was made for irregularities or any history of nefarious transactions.
How can you encourage crypto donations? The best way to encourage crypto donations is to make it obvious that you want them. Put a giving widget on your website, then talk about it on social media and in your newsletters.
How do NFTs fit in with crypto donations? NFTs are very exciting, but they are not cryptocurrency. They are a property created for use on a blockchain and can provide various kinds of utility. In terms of donations, we are mainly seeing donors selling them and donating the resulting crypto. Donating NFTs as the asset itself is not yet popular since they cannot easily be converted to USD.
Do you know what nonprofits do with these donations? For instance, are they converted to cash? Yes, 95% of Engiven’s clients use our automated conversion system.
Forbes varies in how they assess the estimated wealth of cryptocurrency billionaires. How should we think about the wealth of individuals on various wealth lists? Are they “really billionaires”? Or should organizations think about only asking them for crypto donations? I can only answer this by providing some basic stats. About 20% of US adults own crypto. Between 1-3% of your donor base owns enough appreciated crypto to make a six-figure donation. From a development perspective, I would be asking your best donors if they own crypto and if they plan to donate it.
Do you think Crypto Philanthropy will become more common amongst the upcoming GenX generation? Do you see an increasing trend? Yes, we see a lot of larger donations from the GenX demographic. GenZs and Millennials give more gifts, but the larger gifts are given mostly by GenXers.
Do you have any experience with NFTs? I heard you can program smart contracts into them so any time they are bought or sold the nonprofit receives a portion of the sale. Seems like an extraordinary opportunity if this is possible. Yes. Typically, the process involves the Engiven client generating a public address that is written into the NFT’s smart contract so that anytime the NFT is transferred, a portion of the value is automatically donated to the charity.
Can a traditional investment firm handle the Crypto transfer similar to stock or IRA asset transfer? No, not if it’s a donation. Some firms have donor-advised funds where you can donate crypto and receive a tax receipt from their 501c3 and then direct the resulting USD to the charity of your choice later.
Would Blockchain Migration affect crypto that has already been donated? No. Once a donation has been made the transaction is complete. Typically, the crypto is converted/exchanged for fiat (USD) and that concludes the transaction.
What metrics would you suggest we use to measure the impact regarding philanthropic strategies with the addition of cryptocurrency? Also, how do you suggest we might explore adding crypto for doing a Capital Campaign? Is it feasible? If you have a campaign, you could reasonably assume that 1-3% of your targeted donors can make a six-figure crypto gift. I think crypto as a tool for a capital campaign has a high degree of success since capital campaigns are generally focused on major gifts and crypto falls into the major gifts category.
Crypto in Canada
Do we have any stats about Canadians donating crypto? Not at present. Here’s some new info to review: https://www.gemini.com/state-of-crypto
Are you able to speak to how the Canada Revenue Agency treats Crypto as a benefit for donors? My understanding is that Canadian citizens receive a standard charitable contribution tax benefit but still must pay their capital gains on any appreciated crypto even if donating. https://www.cryptogiving.ca/
Does your platform work for Canadian charities? Yes, Engiven can operate in 50 countries. However, our platform is currently denominated in USD.
Risk vs. Reward
Is there added risk to a charity from a “Know Your Donor” perspective? How do we mitigate that? The main risks would be if you accept anonymous donations, which we don’t recommend.
How do you suggest charities approach push-back relating to the high energy consumption of crypto? Charities are generally only concerned about cryptos that employ “proof of work” algorithms for confirmation. These assets include Bitcoin and Ethereum. My suggestions for charities that do not want this kind of exposure are as follows:
- Do not accept Bitcoin or Ethereum donations
- Purchase carbon offsets
- Donate a percentage of your donated crypto to charities that are actively planting trees and/or providing “offset” initiatives
What about the negative side of cryptocurrency? Cryptocurrency can be very safe if precautions are taken. Use reputable exchanges such as Coinbase and Gemini, who both insure their client accounts. If you own crypto and custody it outside of an exchange, make sure you have your secret keys and wallet access information stored in a safe deposit box with instructions in the event of your passing. Also, crypto-assets can be held in trust, which I recommended.
If you are able to speak to this, when, if ever, do you expect crypto (or at least Bitcoin) to stabilize? Will that come with time? Greater buy-in from the public? As certain coins reach their limit? I think as regulation and institutional ownership of Bitcoin (and some other major crypto assets) increases, volatility will decrease. Also, 19 million of the total 21 BTC supply is already minted. As we move closer to BTC end of supply, I believe its price will stabilize much like the price of gold.
How did you get involved in this James? Here’s a recent interview where I go into the backstory: https://engiven.com/zgive-insider-interviews-engiven-co-founder-and-ceo-by-tricia-roseveare-cmo-zgive/
Can you speak about the fees for Engiven including exchange rates? Engiven provides two tiers of service:
- Standard – No signup fee or monthly fee. 4% transaction fee on the gross giving amount. No other fees.
- Premium – $1500 annual fee. 3% transaction fee on the gross giving amount. No other fees.
Is there a separate fee for dealing with IRS paperwork or is it included in your annual fee? Engiven’s Premium service includes an unlimited number of 8282 and 8283 forms + appraisals as needed.
Does Engiven work with community foundations to help with the process of Crypto giving? Yes, we work with many community foundations.
Does Engiven require the “Control” person to provide their personal SSN? Yes, it’s a compliance requirement similar to opening a bank account at BofA or Wells Fargo.
Can you share an example of the interface used by Engiven that a donor would see? You can find that here
Engiven is a leading cryptocurrency donation management platform providing an end to end giving solution benefiting nonprofits and their donors. For more information about Engiven, visit https://engiven.com
CampaignCounsel.org is a capital campaign consulting company that partners with civic, health, social, educational and faith-based nonprofits to raise capital for building projects. Our principles are to create opportunity through listening and value through insight. Our purpose is to share our experience, knowledge and sound judgement with organizations that are inspired to grow. For more information about CampaignCounsel.org, visit https://www.campaigncounsel.org/
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