Bitcoin Boost: Bitcoin Holds Promise for Non-Profits

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Driven by a desire to promote human dignity, Dignitas International, a Malawi-based charity that has provided medical assistance to 200,000 residents in the land-locked nation since 2004. The organisation is now turning its attention to a challenge of an entirely different kind: transaction fees.

“Dignitas has to deal with high credit card and transaction fees on all of our donations which can range between 2-5%,” explained Anne Connelly, the charity’s director of fundraising and marketing. She added: “Every donation dollar we lose in a currency exchange or a transfer fee is a dollar that is not going to help someone in need.”

It is this frustration with existing third-party payment processors and credit card companies that fuelled the charity’s recent decision to accept bitcoin. With the initiative, Dignitas hopes to reach a whole new pool of donors for whom bitcoin technology can help pass these incremental savings on to life-changing projects in the region.

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“We’re seeking people who want to fully integrate bitcoin into their daily lives – including their charitable giving,” Connelly said. Non-profits who have already taken the plunge have witnessed a generous response from the bitcoin community, just this week Wikipedia received over $140,000 in bitcoin in its first seven days of accepting the digital currency.

Although payment processors Coinbase and BitPay have waived fees for non-profits in the US, Dignitas, which is headquartered in Toronto, uses Canadian exchange Virtex to convert the bitcoin it receives into Canadian dollars. On average each conversion charges the charity a fee between 0.2% and 0.75%, significantly less than via traditional means.

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Connelly says Dignitas plans to treat bitcoin donors like those who pay by cash or credit card. In order to receive a tax receipt, bitcoiners can opt to disclose their personal information, including their email, name and location, which the charity will keep on file.

Alternatively, users can stay anonymous – well, pseudonymous – and donate directly via the Dignitas wallet address, a potential draw for the privacy-conscious.

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