Crypto-Catholics? The Archdiocese of Washington is the first to accept cryptocurrency donations

The Archdiocese of Washington says it is happy to accept cryptocurrency donations, even if parishioners cannot physically put Bitcoin on a collection plate. It is believed to be the first Catholic diocese in America to announce this capability.

The archdiocese, which has 655,000 members in the District of Columbia and five counties in Maryland, said it will use a donation service company to process donations to various Catholic ministries, including the Parish Support Initiative, which helps fund food dispensations. and hot meal plans.

The archdiocese has not reported any cryptocurrency donations so far and noted that the option began on July 29. He said all donations will be immediately converted into cash and sent to the church.


Joseph Gillmer, the archdiocese’s executive director of development, said via email that while cryptocurrency donations fall into a similar category to stock or bond donations, the potential for high donations is greater.

“The number of gifts received may be low compared to traditional donation methods, but the average amount of each gift is likely to be many times higher,” he said.

“I see cryptocurrency donations as another way for donors to support charitable causes,” Gillmer said. “It’s part of a philosophy to make it easier for donors to achieve their philanthropic goals by being as flexible as possible.”

Since reaching a high of $ 3 trillion in market value in November, cryptocurrencies have declined, according to the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets. The Journal noted that the total market value dropped to about $ 890 billion in the second quarter of this year.

According to cryptocurrency exchange Gemini Trading Group, which tracks industry-wide data, 20% of Americans said they hold cryptocurrencies last year, creating a large pool of potential donors.

“Even though Bitcoin has dropped more than 50% since its peak, if you have people who invested in Bitcoin four years ago, they are still 10 times higher than when they bought it,” said cryptocurrency expert David Sacco. a resident professional at New Haven University’s Pompea College of Business.

An investment of $ 2,200 in 2018 now totals $ 22,000. Mr. Sacco said the appreciation could lead to a big bite of capital gains if that bitcoin is converted into cash. Donate it to charity, Sacco said, and you get the $ 22,000 tax deduction even if you only spent a small portion in cash to acquire the asset.

Yet it does not foresee a rush to donate cryptocurrencies to charities.

“I think cryptocurrency donations will be as popular as people who use cryptocurrency to buy things,” Sacco said. “It’s out there, people use it to generate advertisements, but I don’t think there is a place, whether it’s people buying textbooks with cryptocurrencies or people giving money. ‘Silver, [except] to create buzz.

Yet after 18 months of what the Salvation Army’s western US region calls CryptoKettle online, the evangelical organization raised $ 121,502 in cryptocurrency donations, a manager said.

“It’s a new way of giving,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kyle Smith, the Salvation Army’s communications secretary in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

He said these donations are occasional, similar to periodic donations of gold coins from collection kettles in shopping malls during the winter holidays.

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, are encrypted data streams monitored by members of a secure computer network called the blockchain, which serves as a ledger for transactions.

The Archdiocese of Washington and the Salvation Army have chosen Engiven, a San Diego-based cryptocurrency donation services company, to process donations.

CEO and co-founder James Lawrence said the company has several programs for organizations. Commissions range from 3% to 4% per transaction and are lower for those with an annual subscription or a “tailor-made” plan, he said.

Lawrence said the fees were similar to the credit card processing fees that nonprofits pay when they accept donations.

“Service charges are only part of the nature of the way money is moved,” said Lawrence. “If someone donates $ 1,000 to one of our customers and Engiven gets 3%, or $ 30, we consider it great value for money. The level of complexity involved in trading and maintaining compliance and security is a fair enough deal for the service on offer.

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