There have been several charities over the last year that has announced that they will be accepting Bitcoins for donations. But, not to lessen the importance of the work these charities have been doing, these organizations have all be somewhat small, flying under the global radar.

This has all changed however because now the largest private charity in the world, United Way Worldwide, will be accepting Bitcoin for donations. The move dovetails nicely with the United Way’s stated mission of mobilizing the power of whole communities for the greater good. They do this by seeking improvements in things like education that helps people achieve greater financial stability in today’s modern world.

The United Way is partnered with some of the largest organizations in the world to help achieve their goals, such as Exxon Mobile, the National Football League and General Electric and with nearly 3 million volunteers and nearly 10 million donors raising more than US$5 billion each year. Now this group will be accepting Bitcoins as donations in a few days according to reports. Their Bitcoin payments will be processed through Coinbase.

The organization said that it wants to attract new donors, particularly people who have not donated before because of the inconvenience. The new interface will allow users to donate in just two simple clicks, if you have Bitcoin wallet. Moreover, the new payment mode allows the United Way to receive much smaller micro donations such as a fraction of a cent – something that was not feasible before due to transaction fees and technological limitation.

It should be noted that one statement could be slightly disingenuous in the official announcement. Coinbase’s blog said about donating that:

“Bitcoin is an especially attractive payment method because it enables individuals to donate knowing that 100% of the donation will go to the cause.”

This is not precisely true, however. While there are no remittance or transfer fees connected to the donation, no charity that has paid employees is able to give 100% of donations to programs, no matter how noble the cause.

If a user does use Bitcoin for donations however, the money that would normally be spent on these fees would go toward the United Way instead of the banks or payment processing companies. The United Way has published a Bitcoin FAQ  with detailed information on the new payment option.

The decision to accept Bitcoin comes just weeks after an announcement by Coinbase that it would be waving all exchange fees for registered 501(c) non-profits, which makes sense for the United Way and may light a way for other Bitcoin oriented businesses to attract new customers. Several other companies are doing similar things with promotions, such as offering as much as 10% discount customers who pay with Bitcoin. Coinbase opening the doors to non-profits however seems to have been positively inspired and the future certainly looks bright for charities especially since the BitGive Foundation recently became the first Bitcoin charity organization to be officially recognized by the government. 

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