Two charities began accepting bitcoins today. A newly formed foundation called BitGive was announced, which will filter bitcoin donations through to a variety of causes. Another existing organization, Songs of Love, also announced a bitcoin donation option.
Connie Gallippi, founder of the BitGive Foundation, explained that the organization had applied for its 501c status. In the meantime, it would be collecting bitcoin donations, she said.
BitGive came out of meetings held at the Bitcoin conference in San Jose in May, said Gallippi, the sister of BitPay founder Tony Gallippi. She has spent 13 years working in the non-profit sector.
“A lot of these companies can donate on their own and I’m sure they will continue. But the idea of BitGive is that they can donate to an organized community foundation and take care of and focus on the charitable side.”
Ms Gallippi was unfazed about the haziness of tax issues surrounding bitcoin, although she was unsure about the IRS’ position on the issue. “I don’t know. As with a lot of things in the bitcoin space will we have to see how they react and what they want to do with it,” she said. She is working with law firm Perkins Coie, whose executives also spoke at the conference. “Everyone in the room is questioning regulation and what’s going to happen,” she argued.
“If they’re a c3, then they have to issue a receipt,” said James White, director of tax issues for the US Government Accountability Office. Bitcoin’s native protocol does not allow for receipts, although this may change with the introduction of Bitcoin Payment Messages in version 0.9.
“We are awaiting c3 approval, but we are using BitPay and they will provide receipts,” said Ms Gallippi.
Bitcoins go into a BitPay account, and will then sit in the account until enough funds have been amassed to begin paying out to causes. Ms Gallippi didn’t say what that threshold would be, but the stated goal is to provide a multi-million dollar investment fund.
“We are favourable to bitcoin at both ends, going in and out,” she said, adding that the group was trying to promote the use of bitcoin. However, it will also take cash donations in time, and would consider paying out cash donations to causes.
She sees opportunity in the volatility of the bitcoin market. “If bitcoin goes up in value, then any donations we get now will be worth so much more later.”
Patrick Murck, general counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, is the president of the organization. BitPay co-founder Stephen Pair is also on the board.
The Songs of Love charity, which provides personalized songs for sick children, is also accepting BitPay payments on its site. Organizers could not be reached for comment.
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