The invasion of Ukraine last month has set off waves of philanthropy and unprecedented conversations about how we fund wars.
In Ukraine and the first crypto war, the Ukrainian military reported more than $85 million in bitcoin and Ethereum donations to the official defense fund.
As the invasion has progressed, NFTs continue to play a significant role, with many platforms, communities, and individuals joining the conversation, donating, and standing with the people of Ukraine.
Meet Endaoment, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) Community Foundation building decentralized financial infrastructure focused on social impact.
The total donations since launch in late September of 2020 have been $38.5M, with 20% directly resulting from NFT sales and 25% from donations so far this year. Endaoment makes it easy to donate cryptocurrency to 501(c)(3) organizations via individual Donor-Advised Funds, Community Funds, and Direct Donations.
Endaoment exists to solve two problems: to ease the donation of crypto and allow nonprofits to accept crypto and cash out. Endaoment charges 0.5% on inbound contributions and 1.0% on outbound grants, with no annual or recurring fees.
Founder and CEO Robert Heeger came up with this idea after wanting to make a donation using crypto a few years ago “people looked at him like he had six or seven heads,” remarks COO Zach Bornstein, which became the origin of Endaoment. “It could be the use of blockchain for transparency or fundraising. Either way, it’s time to bring the world of philanthropy into the 21st century.”
The minimal fees and overheads mean that Endaoment’s blockchain technology enables things that were not possible before; delivery of unrestricted funds to a nonprofit previously set up on the platform takes a maximum of 36 hours, which is essential when working with those on the frontline.
When it came to Ukraine, Endaoment needed to think fast. Endaoment’s $500 donation minimum was reduced to $100 for their Ukraine Sovereignty Fund, so smaller donors could also get involved.
Endaoment looked at all the organizations on the frontline working with Ukraine, such as ICRC, Soldiers of Ukraine, and more, then created this community fund to make donating as easy as possible. To that effect, Endaoment has raised $750K through their Ukraine fund and has sent over $2.9M since the invasion began to nonprofits working on humanitarian aid related to the conflict.
It is important to note that donors can choose any charity to support so long as it is compliant and registered in the United States as a 501(c)(3). And for donors, “anyone can get involved; all you need to do is connect your crypto wallet and make a donation,” Bornstein adds.
A Direct Donation is a gift made from your connected wallet on the organization’s Endaoment profile. Direct Donations function just like donations made elsewhere on the Endaoment app. However, direct donations bypass the need to create and fund a DAF, allowing users to send their assets to an organization of their choice in a single transaction.
Community Funds are open to the public—anyone can donate—and require no setup cost. These funds carry the same perks and tax-free status as a traditional DAF, but an Endaoment community manages all grant-making decisions. Based on the fund’s stated goals, the deciding community collectively recommends which nonprofit organizations receive grant awards from that fund.
Endaoment is currently raising funds for their series A and hiring web3 full-stack engineers at their for-profit sister organization called Endaoment. A tech and software development firm that focuses on making tax compliant protocols for on-chain institutions.
Platforms: The Giving Block
The Giving Block is the leading crypto philanthropy platform, offering powerful tools that connect nonprofits and crypto donors.
Their platform enables nonprofit organizations to securely and compliantly accept cryptocurrency donations, allowing them to tap into the coveted young GenZ and Millenial crypto donor demographic while empowering donors to give cryptocurrency to their favorite causes worldwide with the potential to realize tax advantages through their philanthropy.
They are on track to process over $1B in crypto donations in the next 12 months.
The Giving Block’s Crypto Philanthropy programs are now the fastest-growing revenue channel for hundreds of nonprofits, including United Way Worldwide, Save the Children, and the American Cancer Society.
They are the most disruptive force in charitable giving today, according to Chief Operating Officer Ben Pousty.
“The leap into NFT philanthropy was driven by the incredible market demand for NFTs and the outsized generosity of the NFT community, which has made giving back an inherent piece of their cultural fabric. In 2020, there was little to no NFT fundraising. In 2021, they processed over $12mm in cryptocurrency donations from the NFT community. It was truly inspiring to watch this community become such a powerful force for good and pay their good fortunes forward,” Pousty said. “I can’t say enough about the genuine generosity and philanthropic spirit in the NFT community.”
When the conflict in Ukraine escalated, the need for immediate support on the ground became apparent. They worked quickly with nonprofit organizations to launch Ukraine Emergency Response Fund on Feb. 24 and have raised over $3.5M over the last month.
The NFT community supported the fund and the nonprofit organizations leading the humanitarian aid effort in Ukraine.
NFT projects, artists, and others will donate the cryptocurrency proceeds of their NFT sales and auctions to crypto-friendly nonprofit organizations in The Giving Block’s network.
These NFT sales and auction proceeds are usually donated in ETH, so ETH unseated bitcoin for the first time in 2021 as The Giving Block’s most donated cryptocurrency.
They processed over $30M in ETH donations in 2021.
Cryptocurrency donations to the Ukraine Emergency Response Fund are split evenly across the 20+ nonprofit organizations in the fund, including United Way Worldwide, Save The Children, and others. Only crypto-friendly nonprofits that The Giving Block has thoroughly vetted are accepted into the fund. They review their organizations and their humanitarian aid programs and activities in Ukraine on an ongoing basis to ensure cryptocurrency funds raised are making an optimal impact.
To learn more about our Ukraine Emergency Response Fund and to make a cryptocurrency donation today, please visit https://thegivingblock.com/campaigns/ukraine-emergency-response-fund/
If you are a nonprofit interested in accepting cryptocurrency and learn how you can maximize your fundraising outcomes or a crypto donor looking to make a difference, please visit: https://thegivingblock.com/
He started with NFTs in January 2019 when he got interested in gaming assets and item ownership with Enjin. After that, he explored other use cases as aspects of NFTs such as digital art, metaverse land, PFPs, and more.
He runs a Telegram Art Auction channel called SKIES and is using the power of art and NFTs to raise funds for charitable causes. They have raised funds towards helping scammed community members, disaster relief in Venezuela, ENDSARS in Nigeria, Carbon Emission Offsets, and now most recently, humanitarian relief in Ukraine.
“Before NFTs, I was not doing any humanitarian work. It wasn’t until I got into NFTs that I realized how generous people can be and just how willing folks are to help out. The biggest hurdle was HOW can someone help, not WHY. So by using my art auction group, AGAH (Art Gallery Auction House), I used this channel as the focal point for humanitarian efforts while also supporting emerging artists within the NFT art world. As for why I do this, it’s just because I want to help. I don’t like being in a position of feeling helpless, and I know many others feel this way, too. That’s why using our art to raise funds does a lot of good for every contributor and the recipients of these funds. We all want to help, and I wanna make it easy to do so,” Pan explains.
For Pan’s platform, Ukraine posed a challenging predicament. They received over 80 artworks and had to halt donations. They raised ETH with a valuation close to $48,000; consequently, a few individuals went on to create their own fundraising efforts. Zac Kenny, for example, did a similar fundraising charity auction via Polygon network.”
So how does the average person get involved?
Pan said, “the biggest misconception is that you need to know a lot of people or have a lot of money to make a difference — this couldn’t be further from the truth. Artists are able to donate art towards different charity auctions. People can bid on art and receive beautiful masterpieces while doing good with their money. As for how to specifically get started, I recommend getting on Twitter and following notable folks in NFTs who are actually doing good. Curate your feed based on those who make it a mission to build value and spread generosity. Alternatively, you can listen to podcasts, join telegram/discord channels, etc. And make sure to ask questions!”
NFT artists: Ira Chuzh
Lastly, Ira Chuzh is a book illustrator, graphic designer, and NFT artist.
According to the BBC, Ira had to leave home last month, thus becoming one of the 6 million people displaced in Ukraine.
“At this moment, I left my home, but I met new interesting and incredible people in the place where I am now. Together with them, we prepare food for our defenders. We can do this now, and I am immensely grateful,” she explained.
Before the invasion, Ira was not an NFT artist, but now she created the Lizzie Bennett collection to fundraise.
“It’s very simple. I saw the news about the EtherRocks collection on Instagram and researched the topic. I was struck by the scale of the NFT community and wanted to be in the same boat with them,” Chuzh explains.
Inspired by the character in Pride and Prejudice, the Lizzie Bennett’s collection was created in 2021, but the strategy and goals have pivoted to support Ukraine.
There are 333 unique photo art cards of women created by Chuzh, hand-made using different style traits. The money she raises is to help the Ukrainian army and refugees alongside traditional funds such as war bonds. She works with trusted volunteers and organizations she knows, and they make reports on how the money is being used.
However, Chuzh explains that not all projects created to help Ukraine are good. There is an issue of quality “unfortunately, the quality of some projects, to put it mildly low.”
Still, she points out that collaborating with artists outside of Ukraine means that they can sell better-quality products, earning Ukraine more donations.
And for those who are not artists, there are still ways to get involved, “even without knowledge in the field of NFTs, you can send help to the accounts of Ukrainian organizations, volunteers who have high credibility,” she points to @olia.valyanik and siriy.ua.
Finally, she adds, “I am incredibly grateful to the people who came to the Lizzie Bennett Collection. Thanks to them, I was able to send more help to different areas in Ukraine. This war fused reasonable and caring people around Ukraine, and thanks to people around the world, we are fighting this massive war of the 21st century.”
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Helen Femi Williams is a freelance journalist and podcaster interested in fintech, politics, economics, and their intersections.
Prior to this role, she worked as an innovation consultant developing insurtech and fintech products and ideas for brands, startups, and major corporations. She studied International Relations at the University of Nottingham (UK and Malaysia).