Guest AMA with Alex Wilson & Patrick Duffy of The Giving Block

by | Jul 22, 2019 | AMA, Community

Welcome to the twenty-second post in our series of BAT Community-run AMAs.

The ongoing AMA series on Reddit features various guests from the Brave and BAT teams, and, as of recently, guests from projects that Brave partners or works with. 

The most recent AMA took place on July 17th, and featured guests Alex Wilson and Patrick Duffy, Co-founders of The Giving Block. Alex and Patrick addressed both pre-submitted and live questions from Redditors on a variety of topics, including the potential short and long-term benefits of integrating blockchain and crypto with the non-profit sector. To that end, the pair discussed the importance of public education needed to dispel apprehension surrounding blockchain and its technology, and expressed eagerness to lead by example. Alex and Patrick also spoke of their involvement in Brave’s Ad Grants program, an initiative they are using to bring attention to crypto-friendly nonprofits, such as Code to Inspire and the Human Rights Foundation, through Brave.

Highlights can be found below, with a link to the full AMA at the bottom of this post.

The next AMA will take place on Wednesday, July 24th, and will feature Corey Caplan, President and Co-founder, and Adam Knuckey, Vice President and Co-founder of Dolomite.

For the list of upcoming BAT Community AMAs through September 2019, see below.

Skyrox: How did you come up with the idea for The Giving Block? What would be your biggest dream for The Giving Block? Thank you for answering our questions.

We first started talking about the concept of The Giving Block during the 2017 bull run where we saw millions of dollars in cryptocurrency being donated to nonprofits even though not many nonprofits were equipped to accept crypto donations. We then quickly realized that crypto/blockchain could really benefit the nonprofit space whether that be for raising more money in a tax efficient way for donors, or using blockchain for transparency initiatives.

Our longer term goal is to encourage every nonprofit to eventually accept cryptocurrency donations just like they would accept credit card donations. Ultimately, we want to bring together the nonprofit and blockchain community.

We love nonprofit strategy, and we love crypto. Combining the two under the umbrella of a sustainable business model is a dream come true.

We believe strongly that crypto and blockchain will help nonprofits generate attention and revenue. We also believe that widespread adoption in the nonprofit community will not only drive adoption of the technology, but acceptance as well. It won't just get people exploring crypto, but respecting it and acknowledging its power to improve the world.

mtimetraveller: How can INGOs/NGOs on the blockchain have a greater impact than the regular ones?

Well there can be a tremendously positive impact on a couple fronts here:

  • How can NGOs elevate their own impact with blockchain/crypto: immutable ledgers mean transparency like we've never seen it before. The nonprofits can make sure that funds are reaching the people and causes they ought to. This also means that the donors will get to directly see the impact of their donations.
  • How can NGO engagement elevate blockchain/crypto: Simply by accepting cryptocurrency donations, nonprofits are casting blockchain in a positive light. When they pilot the technology, or create their own solutions to elevate their impact, the world gets to see blockchain in a positive light. Both of these fronts I believe to be keys to crypto acceptance and, ultimately, adoption.

t5_1r1f2q: You guys have ads on Brave, right? I think I’ve seen them but I just started using brave recently. how successful has the ad campaign been? Do you guys advertise on other platforms as well? And if so how are the stats in comparison?

Our company, The Giving Block does not have ads but our clients, The Human Rights Foundation and Code to Inspire are receiving Ad Grants (and we'll continue to onboard additional nonprofits). On a monthly basis, the ads have resulted in hundreds of thousands of impressions and 20%+ click through rates. From our experience, this click-through rate is significantly higher than other platforms.

Brave is likely the best place to advertise for nonprofits that want to engage a very tech savvy (and particularly crypto savvy) user base.

Sammy0881: Can you shed some light on your experience with how Brave and BAT have helped (or not) in realizing the overarching vision that you have? What do you see the biggest challenge downstream and how do you plan to overcome it?

Brave Ads have proven to be a great way for crypto-friendly nonprofits to reach the crypto community. Using Brave is one of the most targeted ways of reaching this community because there isn't an easy way to target the community being in or a part of the community. This gives nonprofits that direct link. It's been very helpful in bringing together the nonprofit and blockchain community.

On the challenge front, the biggest challenge is still education for people who have no or little exposure to crypto. We still spend a lot of time educating nonprofit leadership teams on the basics of crypto and why they should care. Like with any new technology, this will improve over time but we are still in the early days. Nonprofits who embrace this technology early on though will be those that benefit most as they are able to build a brand in this space and have a first mover advantage.

Our Brave Ad Grants collaboration has been a phenomenal tool for our nonprofit clients thus far. In my opinion, it's the best way for nonprofits to target the crypto/blockchain community with digital ads, given the makeup of their user base.

mtimetraveller: There are already tons of NPOs out there, so why do we need NPO wallet doing the same job? In what aspect The Giving Block is unique from the rest?

Think of us like a blockchain consultancy for nonprofits. We are not a wallet provider, payment processor or an exchange. Funds never pass through us and always go directly to the nonprofit we are working with. We get them setup to take donations, give them a program that automatically converts those donations to USD (if they request that) and help them build a brand in the crypto community by matching them with partners like Brave.

The first problem we need to solve is not how nonprofits fundraise crypto but, rather, we need to increase the number of nonprofits who understand blockchain/crypto and are ready to leverage it to elevate their impact.

We are the ones focused on that. We aren't just looking to satisfy a need. We are working to create a nonprofit ecosystem that understands the technology and can leverage it, and vouch for it. When the nonprofit world is behind the technology, everyone in the blockchain ecosystem is empowered as a result.

WhyAlwaysMe1991: What do you think will be the next BIG step for cryptocurrencies to get global adoption? Would more companies accepting it as payment or government policies allowing the use of it on a large scale or something else?

The biggest barrier to global adoption is that the "blockchain brand" is shrouded in negativity.

  • People don't know that illicit activity constitutes a minuscule percentage of traffic, just like with fiat currency.
  • In more developed parts of the world, people aren't afraid of the government's power to print money, potentially turning your savings into monopoly money overnight.
  • People don't understand that if our taxes were collected in crypto, the accompanying immutable ledger would mean that citizens could audit every dollar the government spends, where it's going and when.

The list goes on, but there are not enough people in our community trying to educate people on what crypto and blockchain means for human rights, individual sovereignty, institutional accountability, etc…

What we need more than anything is for our community to stop turning inward and nodding to the people who already "get it", hiding from the potential disapproval of those who view crypto as nonsense.

My recommendation: have the courage to post about this amazing technology, and talk about it at the office, regardless of what your high school friends and colleagues might think at the beginning.

Education is still the largest barrier. We spend more time on education than anything else but see this is the groundwork that needs to be done before we can see real adoption happening. This is like the internet in the 90's. Google "1994 today show what is the internet" and watch that video. That is the stage we are in now.

Working with nonprofits is a great way to increase global adoption. They are large organizations with huge marketing engines. When they embrace crypto, it legitimizes it to many of their followers. Nonprofits make great partners for crypto projects because there are so many relevant crypto use cases that elevate the impact of nonprofits whether that be donations, transparency or sending aid more cheaply/quickly.

trieasycx: Do you ever see a future where once the Brave/BAT ecosystem grows to substantial amount that there will be more people willing to use BATs to support charities? How do you see the Giving Block working accordingly with various non-profits and charities to develop a seamless experience for charitable users?

Our hope is that people are already using BAT to tip nonprofit websites and engage with them through Ads. The tips give people an option of donating their BAT they earn from viewing ads to the causes they love without having to reach into their own pocket. Ultimately, we hope this builds a stronger connection between the nonprofit and crypto community in additional ways. Part of this is through the Brave Ad Grants program we've been managing to give crypto-friendly nonprofits (so far the Human Rights Foundation and Code to Inspire) Brave Ads.

We'll continue on-boarding additional nonprofits to Brave, growing both awareness and attention for the nonprofit causes and Brave.

On the second piece of your question, we believe that once people are aware of the fact that donating their crypto saves them more money on taxes than fiat donations, crypto donations will occur more frequently. The user experience for crypto donations being as seamless as BAT tipping is a high bar, but we hope to get there.

EddyTarantulo: How is charity with crypto better than regular charities? Is it possible to track how donated crypto travels to the people receiving Charity?

There are a few different pieces to this.

  • Crypto donations provide a new source of revenue for nonprofits and provide donors with a tax efficient way to donate since crypto donations are treated like stock donations (meaning no capital gains tax and can be written off on taxes)
  • This is a new donor base for nonprofits to engage with and build long term relationships, particularly with a younger demographic that is traditionally not as engaged with nonprofits.
  • There are a lot of interesting use cases for charities to use blockchain depending on their industry. Transparency, like you alluded to, is one of the big ones. A charity could verify they distributed aid to certain wallet addresses which was previously very difficult in the traditional financial system. Not only can they show the money moving, but they can move the money more cheaply so it allows them to more efficiently distribute that aid. In some cases, that means distributing the aid directly to the end beneficiary and being able to avoid middlemen that might slow down the process or charge additional fees. Right now many of these use cases are still in the early pilot stages. The biggest challenge is spreading crypto adoption to charity partners and beneficiaries so they can interact with the crypto on both ends.

bat-chriscat: How do you see Brave and BAT benefiting nonprofits and charities moving forward? Do you think there is a deep nexus between what BAT is doing with attention, and what charities are doing? (After all, charities and nonprofits want to raise awareness or attention for certain causes!)

The short answer is yes. As Pat likes to say, attention is the new currency. Often we've found that our nonprofits are just as interested in raising awareness as they are raising money (although money is required to do what they do!). Brave specifically is playing an important role in this on two fronts:

  1. Our Brave Ad Grants Program: We kicked this off a few months ago and just on-boarded the second nonprofit, Code to Inspire (www.codetoinspire.com). The ads are generating significant impressions and clicks. They are likely the best way for crypto-friendly nonprofits to engage with crypto community. Where else can you target a potential 6+ million tech savvy users? We're looking forward to onboarding additional nonprofits and getting them involved in this community.
  2. BAT Rewards: The concept of sharing ad revenue (70%) with the user and allowing them to tip (or in this case, donate) to the cause of their choice is a great way for people to donate money they are earning by viewing ads to their favorite causes. In some cases this might mean people who didn't have the financial means previously now have some extra $ to donate. In other cases this might mean someone is able to support a cause more than they could before. Either way, it’s more money coming from the crypto community and shining a positive light on this space and spreading adoption.

mtimetraveller: If you guys were to compare the BAT project to a superhero, which superhero would it be? Because BAT is also a giving project and care for its users!

Perhaps too convenient to ignore would be BATman. A wealthy man saw injustice in the world and decided to fight back, though instead of fighting crime with fists, Eich and his team fight the unjust theft and misuse of vulnerable citizens' data through a privacy-centric browser which rewards people directly if they decide to volunteer useful data. I would be curious to see if he had a negative childhood experience with bats. That would really bring this thing full circle.

Read the full AMA here.

Follow the BAT Community’s Updates here: https://www.reddit.com/r/BATProject/

Upcoming BAT Community AMAs:

July 2019
Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer of The Human Rights Foundation

August 2019
Jeremy Epstein (Founder) and Donny Dvorin (GM), Never Stop Marketing Research

September 2019
Catherine Corre, Head of Communications at Brave

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