How Bitcoin is Helping Nepal’s Earthquake Recovery

Bitcoin donations to registered charities like Save The Children and the See Change Foundation are enabling victims of terrible natural disasters, notably the recent Nepalese earthquakes, to receive financial support a little quicker.

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How Bitcoin is Helping Nepal’s Earthquake Recovery

Bitcoin donations to registered charities like Save The Children and the See Change Foundation are enabling victims of terrible natural disasters, notably the recent Nepalese earthquakes, to receive financial support a little quicker.

Donations to the Nepal Earthquake Relief have been steadily increasing to the country, which in the past three weeks has been hit with a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that claimed more than 5,200 lives and a magnitude 7.3 aftershock, the death toll from which is still mounting.

Thousands more have been left without food, water or shelter. It’s been made clear that massive financial support is needed from around the world to help impoverished Nepal to recover from such devastating earthquakes.

Save The Children, who enabled digital donations in 2013, is one of a handful of nonprofits to now accept bitcoin – which can be exchanged instantaneously into the local currency. The organization has been working in Nepal since 1976 and is in an exceptional position to help after years of operating within the country.

Ettore Rossetti, Director of Social Media and Digital Marketing at Save the Children, said:

“We’ve been working in Nepal for nearly 40 years, and before the web and smartphones existed, donations would be mostly come in the form of checks mailed in the post. Digital donations like bitcoin enable us to fundraise faster than ever before and thus support victims quicker.”

See Change Foundation founder Erik Bouchard reported that his organization received over 100 Bitcoin donations in the 36 hours following the launch of the facility, "ranging from US$1 to US$5000 per donation."

Bitcoin is a great solution for charities interested in accepting microdonations. Traditional payment processors typically charge a flat rate if a transaction is below a certain volume, taking a big chunk out of the smaller donations. With Bitcoin, charities do not incur any transaction fees and receive 100% of all the donated funds, magnifying each donation – whatever the amount.

This is not the first time, however, that Bitcoin has been used to raise charitable funds. The world’s first 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation, BitGive Foundation, is also currently accepting donations on behalf of the Medic Mobile Team, whose mobile software enables charity workers to coordinate local relief efforts.

“One of the few basic needs following a disaster very rarely addressed by relief agencies is payment for goods and services,” said Jay Evans, who heads up Medic Mobile’s third largest office based in Kathmandu. “After a disaster cash is hard to come by, and it is also essential.”

Evans continued:

“During the initial 72 hour window one thing did work, the cell phone network. SMS and voice calls worked. Even mobile data in certain places worked. There was congestion on the network, but you could get a SMS through. Wouldn't digital currency make more sense as an exchange mechanism than cash after a major crisis in 2015?"

In light of the second quake, relief efforts have been stepped up anew from the cryptocurrency community. Donations from the ChangeTip’s Bitcoin wallet for the Red Cross alone have exceeded 27 BTC, an example of the ease of cryptocurrency being put to significant effect.

Microdonations, simplicity of donation and transfer are all playing a tangible part in demonstrating cryptocurrency’s suitability for making a difference when time is of the essence. 

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