Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bitcoins for Charity (Wikipedia's New York Chapter makes the first move)

After drugs and gambling, the next step for bitcoin adoption is a more mundane and noble area:  charity.  Charities have two things going for them which bode well for their future relationship with BTC.  One, charities need money, and they are not typically in a position to be choosy about which form of currency they accept.  More to the point, why would they want to turn down any donation?  Two, charities are respected institutions; those that accept bitcoins implicitly legitimize bitcoins.  Worth mentioning is a related downside--charities are generally conservative when it comes to anything that distracts from their mission.  Accepting bitcoins before the mainstream has is a small risk to an organization, and could come with it hysterical accusations of aiding money launderers, or more reasonably, playing around with their tax-exempt status in a legal gray area.

With that said, some charities will take the bold first step.  The EFF was that organization for a while, and it was a natural fit for their techno-progressive agenda.  But someone spoke sense to them and convinced EFF that the unknowns outweighed the benefit.  The next major target for bitcoin promoters has been Wikipedia, which has also declined bitcoin donations, citing similar nebulous legal concerns.  Nonetheless, a small but significant inroad has been made with Wikimedia (Wikipedia's parent organization) New York City, which is now accepting bitcoins (reported here on December 27th)! 

And a neat feature of bitcoins, of course, is that the public address can be run through to see how much they have so far received (so far, 84 bitcoins, which at the most recent price is over $500).

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