As part of our 20th birthday celebrations, we are sharing 20 interviews with leaders in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. Here Ben Morton-Wright, Global Philanthropic Founder and Group CEO, interviews Griff Green, digital currency expert and Co-Founder of Giveth.

Cryptocurrency, or crypto as it’s more widely known, is any form of currency that exists digitally or virtually and uses cryptography to secure transactions. This alternative form of payment is clearly more than a passing fad, having now been in existence for more than a decade. Nevertheless, it remains widely misunderstood and shrouded in mystery, with doubts over its ethics and a reluctance to use it. Discover more as Ben interviews Griff and prepare to be enlightened as Griff explains how crypto is a game-changer in the philanthropic landscape whilst it helps to build the future of giving.

Full Transcript: 

Ben Morton-Wright 0:00

Welcome to the interview of Global 20. At our last Talking Philanthropy conference, we highlighted the issue of youth and technology. So I’m absolutely delighted that Griff Green has joined us today and he epitomizes perhaps both. He says he probably is a little bit older, but he’s certainly younger than me. And Griff, thank you very much for joining with us. I’m also joined with Melody Song, who is our consultant, at Global Philanthropic, who’s a specialist in this area, and the two of us will be asking some questions of Griff. We’ve only got 20 minutes. So we got a very complicated subject to try and keep into 20 minutes. But first question, I want to ask really, Griff is everyone asks me, What on earth is all about? Crypto donations? Cryptocurrency? What is this about? And is there any way you could try and explain that in a minute?

Griff Green 0:44

Sure. I mean, there’s a few things. Number one, Bitcoin is horrible for the environment, I want to start with just saying that, and it has no intentions of changing. There’s like this huge, it’s a huge problem. But that shouldn’t dissuade people from looking at crypto as a way to make the world a better place. Ethereum, for instance. And most and a lot of currencies. All currencies that are being developed currently, today, actively, are moving towards environmentally friendly options that don’t require reckless amounts of electricity being spent. And the potential is huge. Cryptocurrency has allowed people to send money transparently around the world with no friction, that now of course, we still need to make sure that there are clear on ramps and off ramps to get into that world where real work can be done. But if you want to send a donation to Zimbabwe, man crypto, if there’s an off-ramp, crypto is going to save everyone a lot of money and be way more efficient than any other option. And that’s just the surface layer. Right? The next layer is that we can literally create tokens that carry information with it. Right, now, Bitcoin has this information that it was made by burning a lot of electricity, that that, that that’s too bad, you know, but other tokens can have other information with the way they’re created, the way they are created, has, has like influence on what the token really means. And so you can use tokens, and you can create economic games, where people are issued currency for doing philanthropic work. And in this way, you can even sidestep donations itself, because you can straight up create these economic games where tokens are printed when you help the homeless, or when you take care of the environment. And this kind of allows you to have an economic model behind the value that’s being produced. It’s it could be incredible. It’s a game changer.

Melody Song 2:50

Great. Yeah. So that’s, that’s an excellent explanation. And we also noticed in the fundraising and profit sector, that last year crypto giving in the US alone, I think increased 1,000%, was around over 69 million in crypto donation with an average gift of 1000. What do you think motivates the mob, a movement in the crypto community towards social impact? And also, you know, also tell us a little bit about Giveth, your giving platform.

Griff Green 3:23

I’ll be honest, the crypto scene really donates when they make a lot of money. Right. And it’s a huge industry. And when people make a lot of money, they feel like they want to give back. And so crypto, they made a lot of money in cryptos. And then they give that money back to crypto projects that are philanthropic projects that can actually take the money. And this is something to be aware of in crypto, in the crypto markets, that I’ve noticed, because I’ve been running Giveth for five years, a platform that is focused on providing traceable donations and building the future of giving is kind of our tagline. And we’ve been at it since 2016. And I’ve seen the cycles. And when crypto is going up, and everyone’s making money it is a huge opportunity for anyone who is in the US that wants to raise money to accept crypto and make it easy for them to give to you. If you don’t you don’t want to miss out. But also in a bear market. Just to be honest and frank with you guys. It’s not the best time that people are losing money with their crypto, right, their crypto amounts are they’re losing money and they don’t necessarily want to donate so much. So in crypto philanthropy my experience has been that comes in big bursts, one or two years of a lot of donations, and then one or two years and not so much, following market cycles. And I imagine it’s relatively similar in the philanthropic space following economic booms and busts.

Ben Morton-Wright 5:01

Yes, that’s really, really helpful, so the thing that gets asked a lot for us, and maybe people that just don’t understand this, is around the whole ethics of accepting cryptocurrency, you know, where’s it from? I don’t know what it’s originated, is it? You know, is it laundered? Is it? Where’s the origination? How do I even hold it? If it’s given to me, how do I deal with this, and this is a real issue for trustees and so many charities, and it’s an understandable issue, because the whole issue of ethics is very, very important for how a lot of charities work. You know, what, how do you how do you advise people that are worried about that whole side of crypto currencies and donations in the space?

Griff Green 5:39

I think it really comes from a space of not knowing how to deal with it and feeling it’s something different, when really it’s not. I mean, every jurisdiction has a way to deal with it, for the most part in these days. So it’s like, it’s basically the same as accepting cash. If you’re accepting cash, then do you know where that’s been on the ethical side? You know, do you have the same issues? The only thing that’s different is that cryptocurrencies are extremely traceable, extremely traceable. I had a project called the Dow and, and it was raised insane amounts of money and was hacked by like an extremely proficient hacker, and he tried to hide his Bitcoin, he tried to launder the Bitcoin. And actually, this year, someone undid his laundering and found out who he was. And this is like, somebody who is a proficient hacker doing the best they can to hide this data. So actually, cryptocurrencies are extremely traceable, and you just need some expertise to care and to look at it, and then you can find the source of the funds. And honestly, the only place other than privacy coins, the only other coin that you have to worry about is Bitcoin and Aetherium space and in these other, you know, smart contract is what they call cryptocurrencies, that they really don’t have the same issues about money laundering and this sort of stuff. It’s all that stuff happens in Bitcoin, and in the Etherium space and other cryptocurrencies, that’s not so much of an issue. And as far as dealing with it, like accepting it, this is the hardest part. And this is something that work Giveth is really trying to make easy for nonprofits, because it is hard. And there’s a unique solution for every jurisdiction. And even in the US, there’s a unique solution in every state. So for the most efficient way to save the most money and convert it into your local currency. And also how do you deal with as a nonprofit, with taxes in these things? It’s usually pretty easy. It’s, it’s similar to how you treat stock, if someone donates stock to you, and that, at least in the US, it’s really not so hard. You just have to, you know, have an accountant who’s willing to do a little bit of research and then they make it happen. I don’t think that this fear should. So Giveth wants to make sure that this is easy for people we’re not fully spun up yet, with a perfect solution for every jurisdiction. But that is definitely a goal of ours and finding someone like us to help you take the money and use it, put it to good work is probably the best way to go. Right now. And I’m sure in a few years, it’ll be it’ll just be every accountant knows how to deal with it.

Melody Song 8:30

Great, thank you. And I actually had some personal experience with Giveth as well. And I think it’s important to say that Giveth is the only giving platform that I know of that actually can projects or nonprofits can create and get a crypto receiving wallet address very easily and without any fee. So that was really, really huge for me. And the other feature of Giveth, is that Giveth rewards its donors. So tell us more about that.

Griff Green 9:05

Yeah, Giveth is, in my opinion, just the best donation platform in the world hands down. And honestly, I almost feel like it’s objective, because 100% of the donations, go to the objects. We don’t take a cut anywhere. And we actually pay the donors to donate. We subsidise donors directly on our platform through our own token economy. So whenever you donate, on Giveth, you actually become a partial owner of sorts into the Giveth ecosystem and you get a voice and you get a transferable token that has value, every time you donate. So we’re literally paying donors to donate on our platform. And actually we give a stream of residual income, we call it the gift stream, for every donor so they get some money up front. Right now its about 8%/ 9% of your donation you get in liquid tokens upfront. And then you also get a stream of about 67% of your tokens. So effectively when you donate on Giveth right now, there’s a variable. It depends on how many people donate and such, but you can get up to 75% of your donation back in give tokens with that, but it’s streamed over five years. So it’s pretty incredible. We’re literally paying donors to donate. We’re a very philanthropic giving economy. And that’s, what we want to create in this world. We want to create a system that just brings everybody in to support nonprofits. And then we want to eventually take it to the next level. Beyond that we have a very ambitious plan.

Ben Morton-Wright 10:49

Griff, can I sort of ask you what the future holds. I mean, that’s, it’s fascinating that this whole area, and in a way, lots of things have been turned upside down by technology, and nonprofits and charities are always looking to see how it’s how technology is going to affect things in the future. And certainly, at Talking Philanthropy, this is a huge issue that we’re going to be looking at next year, actually, in the next Talking Philanthropy, and looking at social media and all sorts of technologies and how people communicate and relate and give. But what’s your forecast about where this is all going to go? Where are we headed in the wider sense, not just in terms of crypto donations, but in terms of how the world’s changing and the next generations coming through? We’re using different tools? What’s your sense of where this is all heading?

Griff Green 11:32

In my opinion, where we’re headed, we won’t need donations. And we shouldn’t if you really think about it. If a nonprofit is creating value, they should be able to be regenerative. They we shouldn’t rely on sacrifice all the way through. And this is, this is the real goal of Giveth, to create economic models for nonprofits. So if there’s a business model, right, which requires revenue, and so you have to send money in and then you have to, you know, hopefully accumulate money and spend less money than your revenue, right? But we want to create economic models for nonprofits, where they have their own token. And now instead of having to worry about revenue, you have to worry about supply and demand. So how do we generate demand for the token and control and restrict the supply the issuance of the token, but we can still use the issuance of the token to incentivize positive some behaviour for society, right, and reward, good work by good people. And that’s that’s really where Giveth wants to take it so that communities can eventually have their own token economy that’s focused on a cause. And that when that cause is progressing, communities can actually issue the token to the people who are doing good work. And we can pay, we can pay our nonprofit volunteers, nonprofit volunteers become shareholders and donors aren’t donating, they become investors, in a project that really doesn’t meet a revenue stream, because it has an economic model that has an issuance, and it creates demand for that token. There’s a lot of drivers for this, obviously, the incentive system is just much cleaner, you know, people get paid for their work, you’re not relying on sacrifice in the financial dimension. And that’s, just better, of course. But even more so, the nonprofit space is very capital controls, the people who are donating say, where the money gets to go. And there’s a lot of rules around that. And I would like to, I would like to see more voice given to the actual nonprofits on the ground, that have direct feedback, when they perform a valuable service, they see the impact and they understand which services are good and which services are bad. And with cryptocurrencies, we can actually create systems that give a voice to those community members and the donations come into investments in this case, come into a pot that’s governed by the various stakeholders, not just the donors, but also the people on the ground with labour and expertise. They also have a reputation in the system, and everyone has a voice and then they and then the kind of use signal aggregation techniques or governance models to allow the voices of all the stakeholders to be heard, and the direction of the organisation and the funds that they raised to be to be determined by the variety of stakeholders. So that’s really, this is what really excites me about what’s coming in the cryptocurrency space and how cryptocurrency can really change the way philanthropy works, to the point where I really think, I really hope that in 50 years we don’t, philanthropy is totally changed and it’s really just another kind of business that’s providing a service to society.

Ben Morton-Wright 14:57

This is fascinating. It’s a whole new lexicon of language as well. When the company was started 20 years ago, I don’t think we even had mobile phones that worked internationally. So think how far we’ve gone in 20 years. And now we’re talking about a completely different model on the economy. And so thank you so much, Griff, for such incredible insights into the future and your own work and what you’re doing. And it’s a fascinating area that a lot of people are asking about. So hopefully, hearing you today, we can hear some of the themes that are emerging. And I think it’s absolutely fascinating. So thank you very much for your time today. And again, the chat is on #Global 20. So for those that want to respond to your comments, or give other comments, that’s very much a forum. We’re trying to encourage everyone to come along with us in this journey and give comment and feedback. So Griff, thank you so much. And we look forward to seeing more of your creative and ingenious thinking. Thank you.

Griff Green 15:52

Thank you Ben. Thank you, Melody. Thank you. Bye.