Crypto-Catholics? Archdiocese of Washington as first to accept cryptocurrency donations

The Archdiocese of Washington says it’s happy to accept cryptocurrency donations, even though parishioners can’t 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 Maryland counties, said Tuesday it uses a donation services company to process donations for various Catholic ministries, including the Parish Support Initiative, which helps fund food pantries and hot meal programs.

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

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Joseph Gillmer, the archdiocese’s executive director of development, said via email that while cryptocurrency donations are in the same category as stock or bond donations, the potential for donations is greater.

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

“I see crypto 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 market cap of $3 billion in November, cryptocurrencies have fallen, according to the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets. The Journal noted that total market capitalization fell 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 held cryptocurrency last year, predicting a large pool of donors.

“Even though Bitcoin is down more than 50% from its peak, if you have people who invested in Bitcoin four years ago, they’re still 10 times higher than they were when they ‘bought,'” said cryptocurrency expert David Sacco, a general practitioner -in-residence at the University of New Haven’s Pompea College of Business.

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

Still, he doesn’t foresee a rush in cryptocurrency donations to charities.

“I think donating with cryptocurrency will be about as popular as people using cryptocurrency to buy things,” Sacco said. “It’s out there, people use it to produce advertising, but I don’t think there’s a place, whether it’s people buying textbooks with crypto or people giving money. ‘silver, [except] to create buzz.

Another 18 months into what the Salvation Army’s Western U.S. region calls its online CryptoKettle, the evangelical organization has reported $121,502 in cryptocurrency donations, an executive said.

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

He said these donations range from occasional donations to periodic donations of gold coins for shopping kettles during the winter holidays.

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

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

CEO and co-founder James Lawrence said the company has various programs for organizations. Commission fees vary from 3% to 4% per transaction and lower for those with an annual subscription or a “tailored” plan, he said.

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

“Service charges are just part of the nature of how money moves,” Lawrence said. “If someone donates $1,000 to one of our clients and Engiven receives 3% or $30, we reserve that as very good value. The level of complexity involved in trading and maintaining compliance and security, that’s a pretty fair deal for the service offered.

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