On August 19, San Francisco-based startup ChangeTip teamed up with Direct Relief to launch an eight-day fundraising campaign whose goal is to prevent deaths from pregnancy and childbirth complications, one of which takes place in a developing nation every two minutes, reported Forbes.
According to the campaign page on Direct Relief’s website, the charity and ChangeTip hope to provide 2,000 expecting mothers in Sierra Leone and Liberia with prenatal vitamins. One bottle of these vitamins – worth $5 or 0.02 BTC – supports one healthy pregnancy.
As of Tuesday evening, the campaign has raised 12.33 BTC out of its 40 BTC goal (the campaign ends August 26).
“Bitcoin can make a big difference [in charitable giving] because it is also able to move the money fast and directly to wherever it needs to be effected,” said ChangeTip CEO Nick Sullivan to Forbes.
Victoria van Eyk, ChangeTip’s head of community, told the magazine she first learned about Direct Relief from the website’s users, who suggested it as a charity following the Nepal earthquake, when the site organized a donation campaign for the Red Cross. Although van Eyk had not known about Direct Relief then, later on, as she was developing a new philanthropic initiative, she saw that Direct Relief topped Charity Navigator’s list of the 10 best charities. Realizing that charity already had a ChangeTip account, van Eyk contacted Direct Relief to propose a collaboration.
“I explained the potential for Bitcoin as a global donation option. They were like, that’s huge, because we can’t accept yen, we can’t accept yuan, we can’t accept all these other currencies, because of [transaction and foreign exchange fees]. We would love to experiment with Bitcoin as a global currency,” said van Eyk to Forbes. Another benefit is that Direct Relief saves on fees, as Bitcoin donations incur virtually no costs, while PayPal and credit card uses require fees.
Donors are making contributions through specific mentions on Twitter and Reddit, and ChangeTip is monitoring these posts and depositing the donations into the Direct Relief wallet for free.
The campaign is also designed to be what van Eyk called “wallet-agnostic,” meaning that any Bitcoin holder, whether or not they use ChangeTip, can donate directly to the charity’s wallet. This allows anyone to watch those contributions to the campaign come through directly on the blockchain. Individual gifts made through ChangeTip will not appear on the blockchain, as they will be processed on the startup’s internal, private ledger.
Forbes reported that the campaign gives ChangeTip, whose CEO describes it as a “love button for the Internet,” an opportunity to highlight another application of its service – people sending small payments for a snack or a drink.
“We’re looking at [the initiative with Direct Relief] as an educational campaign, to teach their donors how to start using social media,” said van Eyk to Forbes. “And of course, I know the Bitcoin community is — they’re really bright people, so they know, when it comes down to charities, who they want to support and who they don’t want to support. So I figured it was just a win-win-win all around.”
Direct Relief logo – via their press page
ChangeTip logo and Nick Sullivan’s photo – Courtesy of ChangeCoin/ChangeTip