Anonymous Donations: Not Just for Bitcoiners
“Why is giving you my money not enough?” This is how I feel when a nonprofit asks me to fill out a form before making a donation. I am filled with righteous indignation when any organization, for-profit or nonprofit, forces me to allow future advertising in order to make my one-time purchase (donation). The cypherpunk underpinnings of the rising crypto tide teach us a great deal about how much some individuals care about privacy.
It’s true that most crypto donors donate anonymously. It’s also true that most of them donate for the tax incentive, meaning they’re reporting their gifts to the IRS. So if their info is going to the IRS, what are they trying to hide from you? Nothing. Maybe they just want to be left alone.
Don’t Text Me
I mean it. Now, this is, of course, acceptable if this was manually opted into. In other words, if during the checkout, I am asked if I would like to receive text notifications and I manually check that box then, by all means, have at it. If I did not manually opt into text messages, then I find this to be inappropriately invasive. Texting is the third most intrusive form of marketing, right behind (2) FaceTiming me on a Sunday and (1) bursting into my kitchen with a credit card scanner. This is anecdotal, since I have struggled to find any hard research into whether or not people enjoy SMS marketing, but everyone I’ve talked to in my age group (call it 18 to 35) feels the same way.
My impression is that SMS marketing is considered “effective” because we all open all of our texts, while deleting many emails left unopened. That’s not the same as being happy about it. For crypto donors, this is especially invasive since many users have their cell phone numbers linked to their financial accounts, meaning people can use their cell phone number to attempt to hack them. Savvy ones use two-factor authentication instead, but you get the idea. If you are using SMS for donor outreach, please be careful about how you collect this information, since you may turn off a great number of younger donors.
Privacy Isn’t Bad
The top reason I’ve heard nonprofits cite for not wanting to accept cryptocurrency donations is that they don’t want to help criminals launder their money. This is a case of nonprofits getting their wires crossed. If you own a nonprofit then, yes, you can attempt to launder money through it by making “anonymous donations” to yourself, and then spending the money. The issue with money laundering through your nonprofit is that, well, they don’t get their money back. Criminals can’t “launder” their money through your nonprofit. If anything, it’s less like laundering the money and more like taping the money to a brick and chucking it into the Mariana Trench.
Make Donor Information Optional
I have long been a proponent of making donation forms 100% optional for donors. When I walk into a CVS and go to checkout, they’ll ask me if I want a loyalty card to save me money on my purchase. All I have to do is give them my cell phone number. My answer is no. I scan the deodorant, swipe my card and walk out. Imagine though, if when I said I didn’t want to give the clerk my cell phone number, they then refused to sell me the deodorant. No organization would institute a practice like this for any in person interaction. Nonprofits take cash donations at walks for this same reason, because they would feel how utterly absurd the demand was if they had to look somebody in the eye as they made it. Yet when setting up a donation page, far too many nonprofits have yet to connect the dots on why demanding additional information is the highest form of revenue malpractice.
In closing, over 90% of the nonprofits we work with accept cryptocurrency donations from anonymous donors. Partially because Bitcoin is so transparent that they have an extra layer of protection than credit cards offer, but also because… well… why wouldn’t they? Crypto exchanges like Gemini use the NASDAQ’s market surveillance technology. And besides, when they enter their name and cell phone number, how much additional research is your team doing to figure out who they are? The answer is most likely… not much.
Pat Duffy, co-founder of The Giving Block, began as a federal consultant for pharmaceutical companies, focused on collaboration with nonprofits. He then shifted to the nonprofit sector, focusing on executive leadership and fundraising for voluntary health associations. Merging his nonprofit experience and passion for Bitcoin trading, The Giving Block was born, creating the turnkey solution for cryptocurrency donations now used by charities around the world.