UNICEF, the United Nations’ charity arm for children, has announced it will be accepting donations in bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH) as of Wednesday.
Under the structure of the newly established “Cryptocurrency Fund”, a donor’s contribution will be held in their cryptocurrency of contribution and granted out in that same tender, with no available opportunities to trade. UNICEF would also uphold existing donor protocols. The prototype fund will accept donations and make disbursements exclusively denominated in cryptocurrencies, to finance early stage, open-source technology benefitting children and young people worldwide.
To start, four UNICEF national committees—UNICEF USA, Australia, France and New Zealand—will be able to accept crypto donations, and apply the funds to specific UNICEF-supported projects set up to receive payments in this form, without having to first convert the crypto into dollars or euros.
“If digital economies and currencies have the potential to shape the lives of coming generations, it is important that we explore the opportunities they offer. That’s why the creation of our Cryptocurrency Fund is a significant and welcome step forward in humanitarian and development work,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. For aid organizations, cryptocurrencies make tracking donations easier, and have the potential to allow donors to see how their money is used.
The Ethereum Foundation became the first contributor to the Fund and already transferred 100 Ether, worth around $18,000. The contributions will have three beneficiaries from the UNICEF Innovation Fund and a project coordinated by the GIGA initiative to connect schools internationally to the internet.
This isn’t the first time that UNICEF has turned to cryptocurrency to boost donations. Since 2015, UNICEF has been exploring ways to leverage blockchain technology to support its global humanitarian efforts and accelerate results for children. In December, UNICEF granted $100,000 to six blockchain startups in emerging markets through its Innovation Fund, to solve issues ranging from healthcare to personal finance management. The non-profit has also been in talks with the Kyrgyzstan government to leverage blockchain technology to provide Internet access to every school in the Asian country.