Stations see cryptocurrency as a new option for donors
As nonprofits seek to expand their revenue streams, public radio and television stations are beginning to accept giveaways in the form of cryptocurrency.
WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina, has partnered with The Giving Block, a service that allows nonprofits to accept donations in cryptocurrency. Jeff Bundy, executive director of branding and engagement at WFAE, said he sees potential in fundraising from cryptocurrency as its use expands.
“I don’t want a year from now to say, ‘Jeez, I really wish we had started accepting cryptocurrencies,'” he said.
Although the value of the cryptocurrency market has shrunk by more than $1 trillion since Bitcoin hit an all-time high on Nov. 10, fundraisers at the station say it’s still an important lead to pursue. Globally, cryptocurrency owners increases by 178% from January 2021 to December 2021, according to Crypto.com. A September 2021 survey of American adults by Pew Research Center found that 16% of respondents had ever invested, traded, or owned a cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency donors are generally more generous than cash donors, according to The Giving Block. The average donation to Giving Block is $11,000, while the average donation to a nonprofit is $128. A 2021 survey by Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange company, found an average age of 38 among cryptocurrency donors. The average nonprofit donor is 64 years old.
WFAE paid a one-time setup fee to accept donations through The Giving Block. After including the option in its year-end giving spots, WFAE received $1,000 in two direct donations and a third from a general donation pool at The Giving Block.
Accepting cryptocurrency gifts allows donors to give in any way possible, Bundy said. The station also serves a financially savvy market, with Charlotte being home to the headquarters of Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Truist.
“There are a lot of people in our community who understand finance, certainly better than me, and subsequently invest in cryptocurrency,” he said. WFAE has also started accepting donations through Venmo and is planning to expand to Cash App as well.
Bundy said the risk of receiving cryptocurrency donations through The Giving Block is relatively low. When a donor donates cryptocurrency to WFAE, The Giving Block immediately converts the amount into dollars and deposits it into the station’s account.
Nonprofits looking to accept cryptocurrency donations are also working with Crypto for charity, which was created by the legacy scheduling platform FreeWill. Crypto for Charity makes it easy to donate to the top 55,000 nonprofits listed on GuideStar. Nonprofits can also request to be added or removed from available recipients.
Prairie Public in North Dakota is on FreeWill’s waitlist when it comes to the platform. “Not only do we think this will engage a younger audience, but it could encourage a larger donation rather than a cash donation,” said Troy Davis, director of development for Prairie Public.
Prairie Public considered accepting cryptocurrency donations after a board member asked about it, Davis said. Being able to have a “turnkey solution” that could be implemented within months was appealing, he said. Attracting young donors is especially important for Prairie Public, which serves an area with many tech companies and startups, like the Microsoft campus in Fargo.
Davis said he expects Prairie Public’s FreeWill page to launch within the next month. FreeWill takes a share of each transaction but does not add any fees such as service or setup fees. According to the Crypto for Charity website, the platform takes 3.95% of donations, which it claims is equivalent to credit card fees.
Donations made through Crypto for Charity go to Cocatalyst Impact, a 501(c)(3) with which the platform has partnered. The gift is then instantly liquidated and sent directly to the recipient.
WFAE’s Bundy sees the emergence of cryptocurrency in the nonprofit sector as similar to when organizations started accepting car donations: It was uncharted territory, but donors eventually started to s ‘impose. For now, he said, WFAE will keep the cryptocurrency option open as long as listeners continue to take advantage of it.
“I sort of liken it to stock donations – we don’t promote them heavily, but we get them all the time,” he said.