The Art of Giving

Is 2022 the year of crypto-philanthropy?

Lurdes de Sousa

The future is here. 

In March 2021, Mike Winkelmann (also known as Beeple) sold an NFT of his digital art for $69 million at Christie’s – the first purely digital artwork to be offered at the auction house. The same artist followed that up by auctioning a piece called ‘Ocean Front’ as part of the Carbon Drop initiative, raising $6 million for the Open Earth Foundation to combat climate change. This is the pure use of blockchain-powered art in making the world a better place.

For charities who have been struggling with a drain in fundraising sources during Covid-19, and at a moment when society needs it the most, digital fundraising could be a creative and innovative source of revenue.

New NFT platforms are surging as the new expression of crypto-philanthropy. The principle is simple: every sale on the platform allocates a minimum percentage to a social impact organization, as chosen by the NFT creator. 

When Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989, while working at CERN, the future looked quite distant. Today, the internet is increasingly our default context. Today, one’s job, wealth, relationship and sense of self are often mediated through our digital contexts rather than our physical ones. 

The same goes with our altruistic sense. Today, charities have use digital fundraising for philanthropy, making it easy for donors to give. All forms of digital giving are available, from using virtual fundraising campaigns to crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising platforms, website donation buttons and so on… and have become familiar to our sense of sharing. But this may all be in the past as some analyst say that crypto-philanthropy is expected to see a boom in 2022. 

It is probably too early to weigh the influence of this new buzz in the ‘Art of Giving’ but some trends are already noticeable. Cryptocurrency donations are growing and fast gaining in popularity, especially in the global south, where they are becoming part of alternative economies in countries with poor traditional banking systems. East African countries such as Kenya and Rwanda were the biggest beneficiaries of cryptocurrency donations from GiveDirectly, a platform to give cash directly to people living in poverty, in 2021, and Malawi is expected to be a major recipient in 2022.

When the WWW was created in 1989, nobody would have guessed that an art NFT could be sold, thirty years later, at a traditional auction house for a record price… 

Watch the trend; the future is here. For philanthropy, as well.

*President, Associação Internacional
de Filantropia (Macau) 

國際꺽愛協會 (걜門) 

Macau Daily Times is the official media partner of the Associação Internacional de Filantropia (Macau).

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