Digital Currency: How Nonprofits are Utilizing Bitcoin

In early 2013, a human rights organization in Sri Lanka began accepting bitcoin donations in order to protect the identities of supporters. The Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, a London-based non-profit, began to take bitcoin donations out of fear that the Sri Lankan government would retaliate against supporters of human rights. The organization supports bitcoin donations because the digital donations allow would-be supporters to donate to the campaign anonymously and without fear of retribution, as long as they don't leave any links between their bitcoin and real-life identities. However, the US is considering new legislation that would regulate all digital currencies, including Bitcoin.

Bitcoin, a digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank, has gained popularity since its release as open-source software in 2009. Bitcoin is gaining speed as a digital currency: there are currently over 12 million bitcoins in circulation (see the current figures here), and an increasing number of people and business are using Bitcoin (see the story, here, about a car dealer in San Francisco that recently started accepting Bitcoin for payment). However, Bitcoin is still new, and therefore risky. There are no regulations in the United States, to date, for the usage of this currency.

Nonetheless, it is worth keeping an eye out as Bitcoin continues to develop to see if it is something the non-profit world may want to delve deeper into. At this stage, it is simply too early to tell.