The power to share our life experience is being exponentially amplified as Internet technology nurtures and expands our ability to communicate. A drastic side-effect of this heightened level of exposure in sharing elements of our humanity so viscerally with one another, around the world in an instant, is imminent, sickening heartbreak. Stories, images and video of unimaginable violence and suffering fill media news coverage globally driving the compassionate masses, at some point, to wish that there were a way to help. The bombing at the Boston Marathon spawned that horrific longing and helplessness in people across the United States and throughout the world. Fortunately for the empathic and geographically remote there is now Bitcoin and, for this particular catastrophe, Trey Copeland, an American web developer created an emergency relief fund called Bitcoins for Boston.
“Aside from web development, I like hunting and fishing and write articles related to that at Outdoorzy.com. I’m also the previous owner of Featured Users, a twitter follower app, before selling it to Izea late last year.” Copeland said.
Upon hearing the news of the explosions, Copeland was compelled to establish aid quickly and directly to the victims of the attack. So, one thousand miles away from Boston, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, he created a two-page website with the singular purpose of raising money for Boston Medical Center, one of the hospitals that has been treating the wounded people and will certainly be in need of resources. According to Copeland, “It’s simple, I’m trying to make the world suck less. The people of Boston needed my help, so I’m doing what I have to do to give them what they need. The attacks happened at 2:50pm EDT and I had the website up with an address by 10pm EDT the same day.”
Donations have been a mainstay of the Bitcoin economy since the very early days and it makes sense because of the ease at which bitcoins can be sent with virtually no transaction fees. Many big organizations have received significant donations to public addresses including Wikileaks, I2P, TorServers, The Internet Archive and Bitcoin Foundation, the latter which has received nearly as much as the prior four combined amounting to around 5,600 BTC. Contributions made in bitcoin add up quickly and pack as much bang-for-your-buck as cash donations made directly.
To raise awareness and credibility for the fundraising address, Copeland reached out to established groups in the world of Bitcoin and has received a supportive response from Coinbase, Trucoin and Bitcoin Foundation, as he explains, “I first contacted the Bitcoin Foundation and Charlie Schrem of Bitinstant about the project. I received a response from Patrick Murck with the Foundation and he kind of gave me some direction and his opinions on the project. Overall, the response of the project has been great and everyone likes the idea.”
Now, Copeland is asking the Bitcoin community to step up and help reach his goal of $10,000 by May 15, 2013, one month after the tragedy, when he will sell the contributions at market price and hand the US dollars over to the hospital. After the donation is made, a receipt from Boston Medical Center will be posted online to be open and transparent on everything. The monetary value of the actual donation will depend on the price that the bitcoins sell for when the time comes.
“One strength that I see about Bitcoin right now is that the last traded price keeps increasing, which gives the value of each coin donated a higher amount than when originally sent in. Another thing is that it’s easy, quick and simple for someone with bitcoins to send a donation.” Copeland stated.
Emergency donation funds like Bitcoins for Boston have fantastic potential to move funds to areas in need around the world. Bitcoin is the quickest, easiest and most effective means by which to send money and those are vital properties for emergency fundraising. There is the wrinkle in the fact that, at this point in time, the bitcoins will likely need to be exchanged for fiat before ultimately becoming extremely useful in relief efforts, but that is easily overcome when trustworthy individuals like Trey Copeland step in to make the exchange fluid. As Bitcoin becomes more widely used and accepted, emergency donations will become more immediately effective, until then, in the meantime, we can all help to make the world suck less by following Copeland’s lead and harness the power of Bitcoin for good.
Ryan Taylor has been involved in cryptocurrency since 2011. He’s written for Bitcoin Magazine, developed the website for Ethereum, co-created the Open Index Protocol for storing metadata on the blockchain, and attended countless conferences focused on decentralization.