The Future of the BitGive Foundation: Great Potential Amid Uncertainty
Over the past three days, Bitcoin Magazine has featured stories about the BitGive Foundation; how it began and the work that it has done with charities including Save the Children, The Water Project and Medic Mobile. Its founder and sole full-time staffer, Connie Gallippi, has helped the organization grow to become the first registered tax-exempt bitcoin charity, spreading the word about Bitcoin’s potential for positive change in the world.
“We’ve continuously put out great efforts,” says Gallippi, “and we have a lot of supporters who like our work. The community has been looking for ways to improve its image and reach a mainstream audience. It would be great if we could leverage what we are already doing to accomplish this goal. Our work is making a direct impact today in ways that a mainstream audience can appreciate and relate to.”
Looking forward, the BitGive Foundation has two immediate fundraising goals: its current campaign with Medic Mobile, and support for the Foundation’s own long-term viability.
Medic Mobile is an open-source platform that supports health workers in remote communities of the developing world, using mobile technology.
“Medic Mobile has a mission that connects with our Bitcoin audience,” says Gallippi. “They are giving out thousands of mobile phones in 21 developing and Third World countries to support healthcare.”
Each phone is given to a community health worker who volunteers to take care of approximately 30-50 people in a remote village. It takes hours and days for some to walk to and from the closest doctor or hospital to exchange information.
Using the phones, along with Medic Mobile’s free, open-source platforms, health workers can communicate directly with doctors, saving them from having to walk for days and the dangers that come with it. They can also register pregnancies, track disease, keep vital supplies stocked and literally save lives in the case of emergencies.
Aside from the obvious importance of Medic Mobile’s work in health care, Gallippi saw the potential for building a network of cell phones in remote parts of the world. Early conversations were about hopes that the long-term effect of the phone distribution might also allow for the creation of hubs for bitcoin transactions, bringing financial and remittance services to the unbanked populations as well.
The foundation’s second — and perhaps most pressing — campaign is to raise enough money to keep itself going so that it can continue to take on more projects in the future.
“Right now, I’m the only employee,” says Gallippi, “and the runway is very short for me to be able to stay on full-time.”
Since the inception of the BitGive Foundation in 2013, there has been support from some key founding donors, including BitPay, Perkins Coie, Jeff Garzik, and Roger Ver, to name a few. As the two-year anniversary of BitGive approaches this June, Gallippi will be wrapping up theFounding Donors campaign.
“At the beginning, there was great support,” says Gallippi. “Then the price of bitcoin dropped and things have been pretty slow.”
She is hoping that more companies and individuals will want to take advantage of the opportunity to become founding donors, who will be recognized in perpetuity for their contributions to build the first Bitcoin philanthropic organization, before the end of the campaign.
Besides becoming a founding donor, there are plenty of ways for members of the Bitcoin community contribute to the BitGive Foundation.
- Become a member. You’ll support the BitGive Foundation’s efforts to offer charitable gifts and campaigns to organizations around the world on behalf of the Bitcoin community. You’ll also receive a T-shirt, discounts on events and a tax receipt.
- Direct your tips to BitGive. If you have an account with ChangeTip, you have the option to automatically redirect your tips to one of several charitable organizations.
- Engage in the Amazon Smile program when you shop on Purse.io. A donation of 0.5% of your purchase amount will be directed to the charity of your choice (at no extra cost to the purchaser), and BitGive is registered with Amazon Smile. In addition, BitGive has also secured matching donations from Bitcoin organizations. For the next few weeks, all Smile donations through Purse.io will be matched by Chain.com; those matching amounts will be directed to BitGive.
- Make a tax-deductible donation. Companies and individuals can offset taxable gains by making a tax-deductible donation to BitGive, a registered 501c3, using LibraTax to help optimize gains/losses and make donations go further.
- Buy a T-shirt or make a one-time donation through the BitGive Foundation website.
Gallippi’s long-term goal is for the foundation to establish an endowment that will protect the organization’s ability to operate to its full potential.
“Right now, we can only support one campaign at a time,” says Gallippi. “But there is potential for things to grow if we have the resources. For now, we have to make our choices very strategically.”
“Our goal has been to establish a global presence, and we’re doing that,” she adds. “Our stated mission is to improve public health and the environment, and we’re providing a way for companies in the Bitcoin space to give back.”