Q: What inspired you to start the BitGive Foundation?
I attended the Bitcoin Foundation's conference in San Jose, CA in May 2013 with no intention of getting directly involved. I wanted to visit my brother (he is the co-founder of BitPay) and learn more about Bitcoin.
There was a lot of great energy and innovation there. The conference was full of bright young entrepreneurs, brilliant computer programmers, financial professionals and numerous investors from angel investors to venture capitalists. I have always seen the potential for Bitcoin as a game changer on many levels and with this level of intelligence, energy, and investment funds behind it, I knew it was going to take off and be very significant.
My background is in working for and with non profits in the environmental field in California. I have been working in this realm for over 13 years and more than half of that time has been spent working on policy and funding strategies. The non-profit world is very challenged financially to do the good work they do. I saw the potential for bitcoin to be very significant and wanted to find a way to capture a fraction of the profits and gains for charitable causes.
I started floating the idea to my brother and his business partner, I thought perhaps this sort of thing was already being done. They thought the idea was a very good one and were supportive in helping get things started. There were positive signals all around, and I was very excited about the possibilities, so I decided to begin the process of starting a new foundation. Here we are 6 months later with a formal Foundation, an amazing Board, and successful projects and a great campaign under our belt!
Q: You recently raised Bitcoin worth $4,850 for the typhoon victims in Philippines. How was the support from the Bitcoin community like?
This was a very fun and exciting campaign! We were very pleased with the Bitcoin communities support for charitable giving and for Save the Children as well. This was part of a bigger project, Bitcoin Black Friday and we helped spearhead the charitable aspect of the event. Over 30 charities participated and over 1000 BTCs were raised for charity!
Q: Tell us more about your next event and how many bitcoin do you plan to raise?
We are gearing up for several different events. We plan to have two or three campaign donation drives this quarter. We are still evaluating which charities we will run a campaign for, but there are several we are looking at. We are thinking about having increasing levels that are paired with matches from donors. For example, if we reach 5 BTC for this charity, then "so and so" will match it.
We will also be running a campaign for capacity building for BitGive. We are fairly new and all volunteer right now, so in order to really reach our potential, we are seeking some funds to support the basic organization and staff. The goal is around $100K (in today's value, around 100 BTC) to get things up and running with a full-time staff and professional contractors for things like legal counsel and accounting.
Q: What are your future plans for the BitGive Foundation?
We have a very big bold vision and mission - giving on a global scale to move the needle on critical issues facing our society and environment today. The long term mission is leveraging the power of Bitcoin to improve environmental and public health on a global scale. We see a future of a multi-million dollar fund that supports sustainable and robust giving in an equitable fashion worldwide over time.
Q: How do you contribute to the BitGive Foundation?
We have a very easy two step process on our website - http://bitgivefoundation.org/. It is very simple, you enter the amount and an optional email address (if you'd like a receipt), click "Donate" and scan the QR code. All of our donations are handled at no cost by BitPay; they provide their transaction services to charities at no cost. We are currently awaiting our 501c3 approval from the IRS, so donations to us within the US are not tax deductible at this time; however, once the exemption is approved, donations prior to that (in that calendar year) would be retroactively tax deductible. We do plan to receive our exemption this year.