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Bitcoiners turn to philanthropy

14 Jan 2018, 00:00, ,

Using Bitcoin to send donations is a well-worn and proven concept, and 2017’s unprecedented bitcoin gains have enabled various early adopters to launch philanthropic endeavors.

Wikileaks became the first to take advantage of bitcoin for donations in 2010, and has championed its use ever since. The first rush of mainstream charities accepting donations was in 2015.

Using Bitcoin to send donations is a well-worn and proven concept and various early adopters to launch philanthropic endeavours.

Wikileaks became the first to take advantage of bitcoin for donations in 2010, and has championed its use ever since. The first rush of mainstream charities accepting donations was in 2015.

BitGive then developed a charity donation tracking platform that uses a custom blockchain that allows donors to see exactly where charitable funds go, and the impact they have. The platform helps streamline the process of donating to charities in a much more transparent way than was previously possible.

The platform has since facilitated several rounds of crowdsourced donating, for charities located in Kenya, Brazil, Nepal, the Philippines, Mexico, and the USA. The service was one of the first three to receive $1 million from a new endeavor announced by an anonymous bitcoiner in December, the Pineapple Fund.

The Pineapple Fund will donate 5,507 Bitcoins, worth ~US$74 million, to various charities and good causes. At press time, the Pineapple fund’s owner, who goes by the moniker “Pine,” has already delivered more than $20 million worth of bitcoin to 27 different charities.

“My identity is a mystery, and I’d like for it to remain that way. Pineapple Fund is not about publicity. I can tell you that I am a software engineer, and I’m passionate about bringing good to this world and leaving an impact, with as little impact to my personal life as possible.”
— – Pine

Every few days a trickle of new donations are announced, despite the waiting list having “over 10,000 applicants,” according to the generous philanthropist. Pine told BraveNewCoin that they started accumulating their wealth when Bitcoin was under US$1, and has “far more money than I can ever spend.”

The anonymous donor decided to give away a large proportion of his wealth after a former boss and mentor expressed philanthropic aspirations last year. “I’ve been somewhat inspired by that, Pine said. “My aims, goals, and motivations in life have nothing to do with having XX million or being the mega rich. So I’m doing something else: donating the majority of my bitcoins to charitable causes.”

However, the software engineer is still “hoping to figure out” what to do in life. “I’m certainly not retired, and I have various tech related projects that I will be working on,” Pine adds. “Bitcoin has certainly allowed me to be able to work on them at my own terms. I’m looking to leave an impact on this world through multiple ways, not just donating bitcoins”

“We live on a planet with limited resources. Economically, the marginal utility of money decreases the more money you have, and it does bring me a little bit of joy to maximize happiness among this planet.”
— – Pine

The Fund has donated various amounts to different charities, from giving a US$1m to The Internet Archive (previously known as the Wayback Machine), to US$5m given to the Kenyan-focused charity GiveDirectly.

GiveDirectly sends money via mobile payment straight to the poorest people in Kenyan villages. This approach cuts out corruption and waste, 93 cents of every donated dollar goes to recipients as cash. Recipients typically spend the funds on food, housing, healthcare, education, and business investment. GiveWell lists GiveDirectly as one of its three “Top Charities.”

The Pineapple Funds donation will enable GiveDirectly to do a lot more of the same, and something a little different. Half of the funds will go directly to local projects, while the other half will go towards the latest experiment in Basic Income.

The inhabitants of 120 villages in Kenya have been selected by GiveDirectly to receive a monthly income, in hopes of raising the local standards of living. In 80 of the villages, residents will receive US$22 per month for 12 years. Residents will receive the same amount in the remaining 40 villages, but for only two years. No matter if the experiment works or not, it will go down in history as one of the largest tests of Basic Income ever, offering mountains of data on the popular subject.

The second-largest donation from the Pineapple Fund was US$4 million, which went to the MAPS project and will fund trial drug testing for patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Pine has stated that the Pineapple Fund will also match donations from other contributors, on a 1:1 basis with no upper limit.

“The Pineapple Fund’s outstanding generosity exemplifies how the growth of cryptocurrency can be leveraged for profound social change," said MAPS Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D., in a post on Reddit. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have donated over US$120,800 in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin to MAPS, which has “significantly contributed to MAPS’ international psychedelic research, public education, psychedelic harm reduction, and advocacy projects.”

"The blockchain community is helping to lead the way, not only in decentralized technologies and currencies, but in giving the gift of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to the world in order to heal trauma and bring greater compassion to psychiatry and medicine.”
— – Dr. Rick Doblin, Ph.D., MAPS

A second wealthy bitcoiner, Reddit user deannolan, attempted to give a bitcoin to 25 charities in December. Dubbed the “25 days of Christmas,” deanolan struggled to find great causes that the Pineapple fund had not already donated to. Despite countless comments bringing awareness to their own charities and causes, the fund still has six worthy causes to find.

A Venezuelan charity, and recipient of funds from deannolan, couldn’t keep up with the influx of new money coming in from bitcoin donors recently. “Please do not send more donations for the time being,” the organization said on its website. “We have received a large donation this month… it’ll take us time to coordinate the help and process all of the money. So please do not donate anymore at the moment, once we have properly processed this donation.”

Around the same time more than 1,000 Bitcoiners donated over US$1.5 million in bitcoin to author and speaker Andreas Antonopoulos. All it took was one tweet that belittled his value to the community for bitcoiners to show their appreciation, after his years of service to the community spreading knowledge through his books and many speeches.

For further guidance on how to donate effectively pursuant to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act the "Charitable giving: How to maximize your donations" guide from Bankrate provides some helpful strategies for supporting charity.


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