Crypto Altruism: Does it Really Exist?

Crypto Altruism: Does it Really Exist?

8 months ago

How has crypto positively impacted people in need around the world? Find out about crypto charities and altruism below.

Crypto Altruism: Does it Really Exist?

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Did you hear about the Dutch Bitcoin miner who’s using his mining rig to heat a local farmer’s greenhouse?

How about the NFT care packages that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for displaced Afghan citizens?

Our society is blessed with all kinds of amazing technology. From smart watches, electric cars, and NASAs' robots taking pictures on Mars. You can even buy an umbrella strapped to a drone that follows you around wherever you go, called a Hoverbrella.
But while some parts of the world are racing ahead with ground-breaking umbrella technology, people in other parts of the world are being left behind. In fact, the World Bank estimates that COVID-19 drove nearly a hundred million additional people into extreme poverty.

And new research estimates that climate change and extreme weather will drive another hundred million people or more into poverty by 2030, most of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia.

But why is that so? Americans alone have generously poured nearly half a trillion dollars into charitable causes in 2020. While many naysayers associate crypto with speculation and get-rich-quick schemes, could crypto help where other strategies and technologies have failed?

This rings especially true in times of crisis, as we’ve all seen in the ongoing situation in Ukraine. In spite of the mainstream media’s get rich quick take on crypto in the past year, cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms made a big splash in the charity sector last year.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways crypto helped people in need from around the world.

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Charities Are Increasingly Accepting Crypto Donations

Did you know that when you donate money to charity in crypto, both you and the charity benefit more than if you had donated in cash?

It’s why the American Red Cross, Save the Children, and Action Against Hunger are already accepting crypto donations. Crypto-friendly charities benefit because they don’t need to pay service or processing fees to their payment providers, which adds up to a lot of money over the long-term.

Also, anybody with an internet connection can donate crypto from anywhere, which means that charities can source donations from anywhere too!

This is seen in the recent humanitarian crisis for Ukrainian civilians affected in the conflict. The crypto community has rallied to the Ukraine government's call for aid for cryptocurrency donations. So far, over $10M in BTC and $5.5M in ETH has been received, all viewable on blockchain explorers. Gavin Wood, founder of Polkadot, has also donated $5M in $DOT, while Dogecoin is also accepted as a form of donation.
Furthermore, Binance has pledged $10M through its Binance Charity Foundation, alongside creating a crypto-crowdfunding site, the Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund.

Of course, generous donors also benefit from donating in crypto as well. In many parts of the world, charitable donations paid in crypto are eligible for capital gains relief, meaning you can donate to a good cause and get money back on your taxes — talk about a win-win!

Crypto HODLers Get Generous

If you followed the crypto news last year, you will have seen that Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, donated 50 trillion SHIB tokens to the India Covid relief fund. How much do you think those tokens were worth?

A billion dollars. That’s right, a billion – with a B.

FTX and Alameda Research's founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) is famously known for his take on "effective altruism," and plans to eventually give half of his fortune away.

Besides Buterin and SBF’s billion-dollar donation, the rest of of the crypto population were pretty generous too. Crypto HODLers collectively donated an estimated $300 million to charity just in crypto.

In fact, in 2021 alone, Fidelity Charitable received $150 million in crypto donations. Fidelity also reported that crypto HODLers are actually 35% more likely to make charitable donations than other counterparts.

Etherisc Helps Farmers Insure Their Livelihoods

Today, more than 60% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa are smallholder farmers, yet only 3% of all farmers in the region have agriculture insurance to protect their livelihood. With climate change bringing more and more extreme weather events, insurance against drought is more crucial than ever before for farmers.

And yet, scarcely any farmers in the region have access to insurance. It’s either too expensive for the farmers, or they don’t trust the insurance providers because of their troubling history of delayed or often absent pay-outs.

While traditional insurance companies have failed, a crypto-based platform called Etherisc is providing the solution.

Etherisc provides low-cost crop insurance to small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa who lack either the necessary ID or financial records to get an insurance policy from a traditional insurance provider. Etherisc’s insurance policies help farmers to protect their livelihoods from extreme weather through smart contracts that draw data from oracles to automatically pay-out to farmers if there’s an extreme weather event.

The project was successfully trialled in Sri Lanka in 2019 with help from Oxfam. Its insurance protects farmers against losses from environmental causes like extreme weather such as droughts. The end result is fair, transparent and tamper proof, but perhaps most important for the farmers: it’s accessible and affordable. In fact, it’s only going to get more affordable.

A study carried out by the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance found that using smart contracts should reduce insurance policy issuance costs by around 41%. The study also found that using oracle-fed smart contracts dramatically reduces the time it takes for farmers to make a claim for their ruined crops.

In time, Etherisc's smart insurance policies will enable more and more farmers to insure and protect their livelihoods, and eventually help more farmers take out an adequate insurance policy.

Crypto-based Charity Funds Launch

In 2021, a couple of pioneering charities launched crypto-focused funds to capitalize on crypto’s flexibility and popularity, some of which have already raised millions in funding.

For instance, UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, became the very first UN Organization to launch its own crypto fund. The new fund allows UNICEF to receive, disburse and hold crypto donations of ETH and Bitcoin, which it will use to fund open-source technology benefiting children around the world.
The Giving Block, a firm helping charities to accept and individuals to donate to charity in crypto, launched an independent Crypto Adoption Fund with a goal of raising $10 million. When you donate to the Giving Block’s new fund, your money is split between the 600 pro-crypto charities and non-profits partnered with the fund.
And just last month, the American Cancer Society launched a $1 million crypto fund in partnership with the Giving Block. The money raised by the fund is earmarked for research into "new discoveries and better treatments."
Of course, we couldn’t neglect to mention Binance Charity foundation’s crypto fundraising efforts, which have so far raised and paid out more than 1900 BTC to two million people suffering as a result of natural disasters like the Haiti earthquake.

Crypto Steps Up in the Fight Against Climate Change

While the negative headlines about Bitcoin’s energy use continue, a number of crypto platforms have emerged with the goal of doing some good in the fight against climate change, one of which is the Celo Foundation’s new Climate Collective.

The Climate Collective is an environmentally friendly blockchain platform with native stablecoins that are backed by crypto assets, like bitcoin, and natural assets, like rainforests.

By including natural assets that remove carbon from the air in its reserve — like trees in the rainforest — the Collective’s reserve incentivises people who use stablecoins to buy its native stablecoin that has a financial value and does some good for the environment.

As more people use Celo’s stablecoin, and the value of its reserves grows, more trees and other carbon sequestering assets will be preserved and used to back more stablecoin.

Today, Celo’s reserve currently holds around $500 million in mixed crypto assets, 40% of which would allow it to buy and own $200M worth of existing and newly planted rainforest to back the Celo Dollar and Celo Euro stablecoins.

Just so we’re clear on how much woodland we’re talking about here, a plot of rainforest in the Amazon the size of Lebanon costs $25M.

Cardano Brings Proof-of-Education to Ethiopia

In 2021, Cardano partnered up with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education to build and install a standardized student ID system on its blockchain for five million Ethiopian students and teachers.

Charles Hoskinson, Cardano’s founder, explains “Every one of these students will have a digital identity — a DID. That DID carries with it information — metadata — that will travel with them throughout their academic life, and follow them into the economic world.”

The ID system works in conjunction with Atala PRISM, a decentralized digital identity solution, which allowsallow students and teachers to store their education and work records on a secure blockchain. Hoskinson later explained that in time, Cardano’s ID and education system will boost education and employment throughout Ethiopia.

Of course, education records are just a drop in the ocean of crypto and blockchain’s potential, but Cardano’s mission in Ethiopia is yet more proof that crypto has amazing potential to improve the lives of people living in the developing world.

Protestors Use Crypto and Blockchain to Fight Censorship

In May last year, news broke that a prominent news service in Hong Kong called RTHK would begin erasing archived any and all news content over a year old, much of which was pro-democracy coverage and social media content from 2019.

Pro-democracy activists began storing the content as fast as they could, but it was readily apparent that a more coordinated approach was necessary if they stood any chance of succeeding.

Of course, chief among crypto’s many coveted features is its censorship resistance, which turned out to be a crucial tool for the activists who were struggling to preserve their history. With help from LikeCoin, newspapers and other media outlets began uploading documents and articles to a public blockchain.

Each piece of footage was stored on a distributed system for storing files, websites, applications, and data called the IPFS. Each upload has a digital fingerprint stored on the blockchain that includes unique metadata, ensuring it hasn’t been tampered with.

The fact that pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong successfully archived so much footage using blockchain shows that crypto is a vital tool in the fight against censorship and human rights abuses.

Crypto Mining Goes Green

Ever since early last year, crypto has taken some heavy hits in the headlines because of Bitcoin’s energy usage.

And while the issue hasn’t yet been solved, many Bitcoin miners have migrated to renewable energy sources to power their mining equipment, mostly solar and hydropower. Others, however, are using more creative methods to make their mining more climate friendly.

One environmentally minded miner from the Netherlands teamed up with a local farmer to find a way to put the wasted thermal energy from his Bitcoin mining rig to good use.

After some initial deliberation, the miner moved his rig into the farmer’s greenhouse and switched it on. It became clear that the excess heat was more than enough to heat the farmer’s greenhouse, which over time has helped the farmer to grow his crops cleanly, as he no longer needs to buy natural gas to heat the greenhouse.

While using a Bitcoin mining rig to heat a greenhouse is undoubtedly a creative way to use the excess thermal energy created when mining Bitcoin, such an idea probably wouldn’t work at scale.

Fortunately, the Canadian crypto firm MintGreen has other ideas about how to repurpose wasted thermal energy from Bitcoin mining. MintGreen mines Bitcoin using 100% renewable energy and then captures the surplus thermal energy from the mining equipment using Digital Boilers.

The company builds the boilers themselves and claims they capture 96% of the thermal energy, that would otherwise be wasted, during the mining process.

The thought of running a Bitcoin mining rig 24/7 might give the more environmentally minded person a panic attack, but as its all powered using clean energy, it’s actually good for the environment.

The thermal energy from the sustainably powered mining rig is created, captured, and then used by homes and commercial buildings throughout the local area every day of the year, regardless of the weather. So unlike every other form of renewable energy, MintGreen’s mining equipment provides energy all year round.

The digital boilers are being trialled at a regional level right now and they’re looking extremely impressive. Should MintGreen keep up its momentum, Bitcoin mining could become a net positive for the environment worldwide.

Play2Earn Crypto Games Help Filipinos Pay the Bills During Lockdowns

At the start of 2021, most Play2Earn games were just about getting off the ground. But as countries around the world were forced into lockdowns throughout the year, they rapidly became incredibly popular.


Well, partly because a lot of people were stuck at home without anything better to do, but mostly because Play2Earn games offer people in low-wage countries an opportunity to make enough money to pay their bills without leaving home.

For the most dedicated players, Play2Earn games have become a viable alternative to traditional career paths. The most successful players have actually amassed fortunes over the past year.

Of course, if you play any play2earn games, you know that Axie Infinity is the king of the play2earn space right now.  In case you haven’t played Axie, the game revolves around breeding and battling digital pets called Axies, each of which is a tradeable NFT.

Axie enjoyed a truly spectacular surge in popularity throughout 2021, and has since amassed a daily player base of around ten million players, 35% of which come from the Philippines.

For the many Filipinos who struggled to stay financially afloat during the height of the pandemic, Axie quickly became a much-needed monetary life raft.

NFT Care Packages Raised Cash for Afghans in Need

In the middle of August 2021, the Taliban swept into Kabul, completing their hostile takeover of Afghanistan, sparking a massive humanitarian crisis. More than 400,000 people were displaced from their homes, and Afghan citizens throughout the country were in dire need of food, water, shelter and protection.

Charities and NGOs immediately started fundraising through TV and social media adverts, explaining how desperate the situation for Afghanis was and how badly they needed funds.

But Jack Butcher, founder of Visualize Value, went in a different direction.

In a somewhat novel move, Butcher decided to sell NFT care packages to raise some money to help Afghan citizens in their hour of need. Each NFT care package cost 0.03 ETH — enough to cover one Afghan family’s emergency needs for a whole month.

Before long, all of the NFTs were sold, and the project had raised a truly remarkable $200,000. The funds found their way to the people who needed them through, a charity with 1300 ongoing charity projects around the world.

After selling all the NFTs, Butcher said:

“We’re excited by the growth of crypto philanthropy this year and know this is only the beginning.”

Michelle Nunn, the CEO of Care charity, added:

“We applaud the generosity and creativity of the crypto community to help rush emergency aid to Afghan families, and trust we can keep building on this innovative partnership.”

Crypto, blockchain and NFTs might not solve all of the world’s most pressing problems, but if 2021 showed us anything, it’s that crypto clearly has a lot more to offer.

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