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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey Reynolds

Long Island Charities Are Missing The Bitcoin Boat

Bitcoin recently hit an all-time high – rising, like, 100,000 percent – and the combined market cap of the roughly 10,400 worldwide cryptocurrencies has crossed the $3 trillion threshold.

That probably annoys Nobel Prize-winning economists like Paul Krugman and influential central bankers like Alan Greenspan, who both – just a few years ago – bemoaned a “bubble” that could leave backers broke. Warren Buffet went so far as to call bitcoin “rat poison squared.”

But American investors who took the bait and traded the digital currency made off with an astounding $4 billion Bitcoin gain during 2020. And with 94 percent of all cryptocurrency buyers between 18 and 40 years old, Millennials are driving this Bitcoin boom: Nearly 77 percent of crypto investors are between 25 and 40. Baby Boomers (ages 57 and up) make up just 1.22 percent of Bitcoin buyers. The older you are, the less likely you are to buy.

Meanwhile, Millennials – especially those new to wealth – continue to frustrate Boomers and even Gen-Xers with their altruistic ways. The “greed is good” generations don’t agree with the nine in 10 Millennials who say that mission-driven giving is an important part of their lives, according to donor-advised donation advisor Fidelity Charitable, which has issued a new report on the future of philanthropy.

The report found that older and younger generations agree that hunger is the top challenge facing the world – but Millennials also named access to higher education, economic development and gender equality among their top concerns. Most Millennials said they view “strategic philanthropy” as an investment in a better community, and 43 percent of all respondents expressed optimism that the world’s greatest problems are solvable.

That’s great news. And if Millennials combine their interest in digital currency with their charitable values, optimism and hope, the nonprofit sector could experience a game-changing boom via digital-asset donations.

In some cases, it’s already happening.

Fidelity Charitable’s survey found that nearly half of cryptocurrency investors donated $1,000 or more to charity in 2020, comparing nicely to 33 percent of the general investor population. And over the first half of 2021, Crypto donations to Fidelity’s donor-advised fund reportedly jumped to $150 million – annihilating the $28 million raised during all of 2020.

Gifts of appreciated Bitcoin hit the mainstream in 2017, when an anonymous Reddit poster created the Pineapple Fund and wound up donating $55 million to 60 charities. More recently, the University of Pennsylvania received an anonymous contribution of $5 million in Bitcoin, and international humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières received a $3.5 million donation in Ethereum, another popular cryptocurrency.

Despite this momentum shift, about half of Fidelity Charitable’s respondents said it was difficult to find charities willing to take cryptocurrency; about 44 percent found it to be a cumbersome process.

Talk about missed opportunities. Cryptocurrency charity platforms like The Giving Block educate donors about tax-deductible donations to more than 700 charities; big charities including Save the Children, the American Cancer Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and many others actively solicit and accept crypto donations, online, instantly.

And what about the Long Island charities that struggle to fund their good work with galas and golf outings? Their “Donate Now” webpages say they accept credit cards, paper checks sent through the mail, even the clunker in your driveway – but few, if any, have embraced crypto.

Motivated Millennials might be willing to give away millions in Bitcoins. Regional charities claim to be on the hunt for that elusive new generation of donors, but none seems ready to accept this growing donation platform.

With less than a month to go before Giving Tuesday, that’s too bad.

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