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United Way Becomes Largest Nonprofit to Accept Bitcoin

(@tanayamacheel) | Published on September 15, 2014 at 14:09 GMT

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Nonprofit United Way Worldwide announced today that it now accepts donations in bitcoin, becoming the latest charitable institution to adopt the digital currency into its operations.

The US-based organisation claims to be the largest privately held nonprofit in the world, raising more than $5bn annually with more than 2.8 million volunteers, 9.7 million donors and community initiatives, and partnerships with such companies and organisations as the National Football League (NFL), Exxon Mobile, and General Electric.

The move signifies the further alignment of the charity with its mission to mobilize its activity in improving education, helping people achieve financial stability and promoting better health.

Donations made in bitcoin will support United Way’s Innovation Fund, which aims to help change the social sector with projects focused on technology, relationships and efficiency to power the group’s worldwide movement.

The integration of bitcoin is made possible by using merchant tools provided by Coinbase and comes just weeks after the payment processor announced that it has waived all exchange fees for registered 501(c) non-profit organizations.

Bringing potential donors

With at least one million users and 36,000 merchants across the world, Coinbase brings the potential for new donors to United Way: those who may not have donated to the organisation in the past, but are incentivised by the ease of paying with bitcoin.

Moreover, the company makes it economically feasible to send smaller amounts and micro-donations – amounts of $1 or less – since it does not charge transaction fees.

To make a donation in digital currency, users are directed to the organisation's website, where they are provided with a bitcoin address to which funds should be sent.

unitedway coinbase

Additionally, Coinbase customers are given the option to complete the payment from their account. There is a 10-minute window during which the payment should be completed.

Philanthropic goals in the bitcoin community

Despite the chatter among the bitcoin community that it has not delivered on its potential for doing good, bitcoin-powered philanthropic activity has increased significantly this year alone.

Small groups like Sean’s Outpost, the Women’s Annex Foundation and some open-souce software organisations accept bitcoin alongside other cryptocurrencies.

Over the summer, Wikipedia started accepting bitcoin donations, becoming one of the first major non-profits to adopt bitcoin, while BitGive recently became the first IRS tax exempt bitcoin charity.

Now United Way has entered the cryptocurrency arena, and while it may not be the first organisation to seek charitable donations in bitcoin, it is almost certainly the largest.

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