UK Lifeboat Service Embraces Bitcoin Donations

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), informally known as the UK’s fourth emergency service, has announced it is accepting bitcoin donations. The RNLI says it is the first major charity in the UK to accept bitcoin. It also happens to be one of the oldest charities in the country, as it was founded in 1824.

According to 2013 statistics, the charity’s 400-strong fleet rescue an average of 23 people per day. Since its inception, the RNLI has saved approximately 140,000 lives. The pilot programme is already available online. The RNLI donations website now has a bitcoin section, complete with a wallet address and QR code.

The RNLI says it decided to run the trial because it wants to lead the way in accepting and benefiting from all forms of digital currency. It chose bitcoin as a well-established and widely-recognised digital currency.

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Leesa Harwood, RNLI Deputy Director of Fundraising and Communications, said the charity has a long history of innovation in fundraising, having held its first street collection in 1891. “Bitcoin is an innovative new kind of currency and we believe that accepting bitcoin will result in donations we may not otherwise receive, as well as connecting us with new types of supporters,” she said.

Harwood added: “This is a pilot scheme and we are looking forward to seeing how it will proceed as part of our interest in cryptocurrencies and how they may work in the future. We will of course closely monitor how much money is donated. We already have safeguards in place to monitor donations, however we receive them.”

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Proponents have been advocating the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in fundraising strategies for years. The comparatively low price of collecting bitcoin donations, the speed at which transactions can be carried out and the global reach of the bitcoin network all make the currency an attractive option for charities.

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