Recently, Connie Gallippi succeeded to meet the press and to answer some questions about her past and present activities, attitude towards Bitcoin, charity work and other occasions. For those, who have never heard about her before, please get acquainted - she is founder and executive director of the BitGive foundation and has a famous sibling, Tony Gallippi.
The BitGive is not a big name yet, but has all the necessary potential to convert in a global power. Generally, it is new, was launched only in July of 2013. The most important characteristic of the organization is the non-profit foundation principles, but accepting Bitcoin donations. The operation is following: the community of donators decides, where should the risen amount of money go to and what kind of aim has to be covered. However, it is not a family charity and has very less in common with this kind of structure.
Connie Gallippi states that she got involved in the Bitcoin society by accident. She intended to visit the San Jose Conference to learn about Bitcoin and charities (see #Bitcoin2013 conference, May 19th in San Jose, Bitcoin and charity panel, Bitcoin for Nonprofits). Although she was only an attendant, she got caught by the idea of cryptographic currencies and their enormous potential. Tony Gallippi lives far away from her, on the East coast and is “heavily engaged in Bitcoin”, she is in California and has a life and work apart from the virtual coin. She had no intentions to be directly involved; her aim was to get more information on the topic, to get education and understanding. The impression left by the perspectives of development of the online currency was tremendous. The key indicator became the thought that “this could be huge”. The conference featured many investors, entrepreneurs and specialists, who also infected Connie with their passion. Her background is different, about non-profit work for environmental groups, but it has granted her the necessary tools to start a foundation with the coin. She continues to work full-time on her previous and present career – the environment and its protection, but does not pretend to know what will happen in the closest future. Huge differences between people on the global scale, many challenges faced every day are the main reasons to start her new part-time job. She believes:
“Success of Bitcoin might help address the issues.”
Much has been done, but the massive work is still coming up. The part-time engagement prevents work on the 24/7 schedule, but it does not mean downtime periods. Many people are working on the common goal to establish an internationally recognized fund. The organization needs more support and generally people, volunteers in the fields of Internet, social media, marketing, fund rising, legal services. Every pair of inventive hands, pair of fast legs and smart brains are appreciated.
“I am open to anybody, who wants to involve and has the skills that make the match with our needs.”
It is a fact that the stereotype of Bitcoin does not include the support and help aspect, but the statistics prove that the altcoin is preferred to make donations and this purpose leads among others during the recent times. Connie Gallippi agrees that the Bitcoin society has to be better-rounded. There are people, who commit crimes with digital currency, buy drugs and complete other illegal actions, but they are the minority group among users. Charities like the BitGive are capable to show the good aspect, to promote one of the main purposes – to give support each other, to implement the principles of liberty and independency. Connie supposes that -
“We could recreate the whole world we live in with Bitcoin.”
The BitGive founder analyses the main problem of the charity branch – people often reject to make donations due to minimal anonymity. Bitcoin is a good instrument to provide privacy – there are some complications, when a person would like to donate to an idea unsupported by the company he or she works at, political organizations he or she is a member of, church he or she attends. The existing regulation on the threshold of donations that has to be reported can hardly be followed, as no regulations are developed for the coin. The law specialists are trying currently to work out a manner to handle these types of occasions. At present time the fund is going to implement the existing rules, the threshold will be determined after the present exchange ratio of the BTC until some other law will be provided.
However, the path of the money from the donator to the collector, and afterwards to the initial aim of support can be followed with the BlockChain. The current donations are processed by BitPay. It means that BitGive has funds both in Bitcoin and fiat currencies, as the receivers of donations might prefer and accept different forms and types of moneys. The choice is left up to them as there is no complication to covert. The point that the organization has only one wallet at the present time makes the audit very easy. In some time, when the BitGive might launch different campaigns and involve in several projects at once the technical part of the process might change. Connie remarks that:
“I am still new to all these technical aspects of Bitcoin, so I have some things to learn. We certainly do not have things to hide.”
The volatility of Bitcoin also has an impact on charities – the price for a unit might change and the collected amount will be worth a different value. Still, Connie Gallippi is not ready to voice a long-term strategy. For the current moment many of the previous donations are worth seven-times more than at the time of making them. It is a great gain for the organization in general. It does not mean that BitGive is waiting till a method is developed. There are many acute events, where the funds raised were transferred at the same day to the initial aim of support. For example, the “Save the Children” for Black Friday was a one day event, where hesitation could have cost much more money and lives. This time the coins were exchanged to dollars and the Philippines received help from a Bitcoin charity, but in form of a traditional currency.
Connie also describes working with Bitcoin charity as:
“It is real fun!”
The aim is not to widen the network of Bitcoin users, but the educational aspect cannot be neglected. CoinBase and BitPay also support the process by taking no fees in case of donations. BitGive is often compared with the Sean’s Outpost, the organization capable to stay in the Bitcoin environment to perform all necessary actions as a charity. Connie agrees that the example is very well chosen, but the ambitions of her fund are much bigger – “be a leader in the community”. The transition to digital money only can be made, as many things from web-hosting to first aid kits are provided for Bitcoin, but the choice has to be left to the acceptors of help. Their decision is determining how to receive help, what kind of ways are open and safe for them.
The main complications of the process of donating are the rules of the Internal Revenue Service of the United States of America. The aim of overall taxation, the necessity to create a particular structure inside a fund, the introduction of the tax-deductible option for donors takes long time and much work. The BitGive succeeded to pass through all necessary applications created by IRS, as the company works with a very experienced attorney, whose career is based on the establishment of non-profit organizations. Due to her effort the process has passed very fast and without additional problems. Still, the routine will long for some time, while the papers will pass all correspondent departments of IRS.
Connie Gallippi was really surprised to realize that the Bitcoin world consists of almost 98% of man. She names the reason:
“It is understandable – it is a programming world, a finance world, traditionally those are male, who are focused on career.“
She is also joking that after her entering the scene the ratio has definitely changed – there are about 96% male in the community now. Connie would appreciate if more women would engage in Bitcoin. They could provide a comprehensive approach to existing questions and maybe develop new fields for the altcoin. Charity and donations might be a field, where female competitors could bring something new in. Gallippi responds that:
“I have met quite a few amazing women, who are in the Bitcoin space or in the Bitcoin ecosystem. They are passionate about what they are doing.”
Connie also shares her knowledge on the group “Women in Bitcoin”. The employees of famous digital coin startups try to gather together and have also launched pages on several social media resources, but it is not a secret group – the promotion is very strong, the current members are willing to expand. The statistics seem to Connie surprising as non-profit activities are mostly run by women, especially in the environmental topics.
The plans for 2014 for BitGive are also partly set – the beginning of the year will be dedicated to the acquisition of the funds and sources that are really limited. The next board meeting will determine the working principles. Definitely all occasions will be divided in short-term and long-term happenings. As there is no way natural disasters can be forecasted the organization will be ready to support the victims anytime. Every decade one environmental and one public health demand will be chosen to work on. The initial goal is to be able to split the collected funds – one will be transmitted to support short-term charities, but the left part will be collected in a pool fulfill the necessities of bigger charity events.
In any case Connie Gallippi seems very enthusiastic about any kind of advice or idea she can receive from people around. She would appreciate any kind of help in her work, so do not hesitate – some coins or volunteering will definitely change the tomorrow of the humankind.