Environmental campaign organization Greenpeace has announced it will start accepting bitcoin donations in its USA division via a partnership with payment processor BitPay.
The move offers cost savings for the organisation, as well as the possibility of tapping into new sources of funds.
Greenpeace does not accept donations from corporations or governments, instead, the nonprofit relies on individual donations. This practice comes with a drawback, however, since the cost of many, relatively small, transactions can easily add up.
This largely because credit card companies and other traditional payment providers usually charge nonprofits the same as commercial organisations, about 3–4% per transaction.
Bitcoin, though, offers significant savings for charities by doing away with these fees.
Bitcoin's cost benefit
BitPay non-profit account manager Elizabeth Ploshay said the company strives to bring bitcoin to nonprofits like Greenpeace.
"For each bitcoin donation, Greenpeace gets 100% of what is being donated, increasing the amount of each donation received,” she said.
Ben Kroetz, Greenpeace USA director of online strategy, explained why the organisation chose BitPay to process its bitcoin payments:
“BitPay’s reputation as a trusted and secure third-party bitcoin payment processor made it easy for us to begin accepting bitcoin, thus opening us up to new markets and donors.”
Bitcoin's proponents have long been arguing that digital currencies offer a range of potential benefits for charities. Bitcoin transactions can be cheaper and faster than traditional payments, while at the same time offering more possibilities for charities and donors through various escrow and multi-signature services.
However, the promise of bitcoin charities has not been fully realised yet. Although a number of successful nonprofits such as homeless outreach Sean’s Outpost were created by bitcoin enthusiasts, most mainstream charities have steered clear from digital currencies.
This is now starting to change, though. Earlier this month, United Way Worldwide, which raised $5bn last year, became the biggest privately held charity to accept bitcoin via Coinbase.
Wikipedia and a number of open-source software organisations have also decided to start accepting bitcoin donations.
Greenpeace is the most recognisable environmental charity in the world, with more than 2,400 employees and 15,000 volunteers, hence its decision to embrace bitcoin can be viewed as another seal of approval for the concept of utilising digital currencies for low-friction fundraising.
Disclaimer: CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan is an investor in BitPay.
Greenpeace ship image via Will Rose / Greenpeace