How Our Second Biggest Donor in 2020 Took Us By Surprise

A Case Study of Cryptocurrency’s Impact on She’s the First

By Tammy Tibbetts, Co-Founder & CEO of She’s the First

Before 2020, I didn’t know much about cryptocurrency. As a nonprofit CEO, I look at the dollars sitting in our bank account every day, so I constantly think about how to raise more dollars. The thought of raising crypto felt so abstract, like trying to find Monopoly money in the dark. It just didn’t feel real, and I was more than a bit skeptical.

But then our Development and Communications Manager, Henah Parikh, persistently advocated for us to accept crypto like Bitcoin with The Giving Block, a cryptocurrency donation platform. The Giving Block invited us to be a beneficiary of its spring campaigns. Soon after, $42,335 USD, converted from cryptocurrency, hit our bank account! This crypto cash was our second biggest gift this year, and it has completely changed my view. So yes, cryptocurrency donations are very real… and for She’s the First, it couldn’t have arrived at a more critical time.

She’s the First is a global nonprofit fighting for girls to be educated, respected, and heard, and we fund programs that reach 13,000 girls across 11 countries. During a global pandemic, we contend with a second catastrophe: the ways in which school shutdowns and quarantining threatens vulnerable girls.

Before I elaborate on these challenges, let’s look at a more promising trend: More nonprofits are accepting their first cryptocurrency donations in 2020, according to Alex Wilson, co-founder of The Giving Block. The platform itself has seen an increase in nonprofit partners, from 20 at the end of 2019 to more than 100 by the end of 2020. “COVID has acted as a large catalyst,” he says. “Nonprofits need to offset lost revenue from physical events.”

If you’re in the position to donate crypto, then I urge you to lean into your power. You are in the unique position to help nonprofits survive and thrive in a fraught year, by diversifying our revenue sources. As an added benefit, Wilson adds, “Donating cryptocurrency can be a much more tax-efficient way to give since the IRS classifies it as property. For the donor, that means no capital gains tax and fair market value deduction on your tax return, allowing you to donate 20%+ more than if you donated post-tax dollars.”

Our Crypto Impact Case Study:

With a recession, health crisis, election, wildfires, and racial-equity issues all coming to a head in 2020, traditional donation dollars in the U.S. are being stretched thinner than ever.

It’s even worse for global causes, as many people are reallocating their funds to needs close to home. While it is important to invest in your own community, we know that global inequities, particularly gendered ones, fuel the deterioration of our economy and environment. And that will affect us all.

We also know that each year of schooling boosts a girl’s eventual wages by up to 20%, and educating girls adds $30 trillion to the global economy each year. Educating girls could also cut 120 billion tons of emissions by 2050… but right now, all these benefits are hanging by a thread, as a global pandemic threatens to rob millions of girls of their future.

Data from past health crises, like the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, show that girls pay the price. School shutdowns not only put girls’ education on pause (given the difficulty of remote learning when you don’t have a wi-fi connection or laptop), but also pull them away from safe spaces. Girls who experience trauma, who rely on teachers and mentors to check in with them and help them navigate complex situations at home, become isolated. This, on top of upticks in domestic violence, forced and transactional sex, and teenage pregnancy, is a recipe for disaster. The Malala Fund estimates that 20 million girls of secondary school age are likely to never return to school.

The best way to mitigate these risks is to double down on support to community-based girls’ organizations, which is what She’s the First provides. The Giving Block allowed us to hit our mid-year goal and release relief funds to our global partners. As a result, mentors reached 6,139 girls, 1,439 girls and their families received food, water, and menstrual kits, and 6,810 girls accessed adapted education materials.

Schools are still shut down across East and West Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, due to the pandemic. We cannot stop now.

The Power is in Your Hands:

What do cryptocurrency and nonprofits have in common? More than I initially realized. The Giving Block introduced me to powerhouse crypto investor Meltem Demirors, who once said, “I think most of us got into crypto because we believed it would change existing power structures in our world.”

That’s when it hit me. Many nonprofit professionals would tell you the same thing: They got into the work to shift power to those who traditionally have not had it — like girls, for instance — and that creates room for new voices, new ideas, new solutions. This inclusivity ultimately benefits everyone.

While crypto has not changed power structures in the finance industry yet, it certainly can do so one donation at a time, on a micro level. When you invest in girls’ education and mentorship programs, you are actively putting more power into a girls’ hands. You are enabling a girl to build her power through education and self-worth. For girls born in poverty, this becomes leverage to pull entire families and communities up with her.

To the anonymous donors who made us $42,335 stronger in a year where #GirlsCantWait for us to protect them from the pitfalls of a pandemic: Thank you. To the future donors who will join them: Your cryptocurrency didn’t just make a dent in our success. It defined it. Thank you.

To donate cryptocurrency to She’s the First, go here!

P.S. Are you a nonprofit reading? This bit is for you! In the most challenging fiscal year of my career as a nonprofit CEO, I realized I had to take crypto seriously. If I didn’t, the ship was going to sail without us…and with it, take resources that could help girls around the world access education and unlock their dreams.

At the same time, to many, the cryptocurrency world is still…well, cryptic. I’ve become open-minded because The Giving Block is so hands-on in guiding us. The start-up cost we paid to accept crypto donations has already paid for itself — nearly 10 times over. You can learn more at https://www.thegivingblock.com/accept-bitcoin-donations.

Tammy Tibbetts is the Co-Founder and CEO of She’s the First and the author of Impact: A Step-by-Step Plan to Create the World You Want to Live In (Nov. 17, PublicAffairs)

We team up with local organizations to make sure girls are educated, respected, and heard. 👩‍🎓 Join us at shesthefirst.org.