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As Cryptocurrency Wealth Grows, Some Donors Find It Difficult to Give

Many charities still lack the infrastructure to accept digital asset gifts.

As the value and popularity of cryptocurrency rise quickly, more people are searching for ways to donate these digital assets to nonprofits than ever before.

An industry report estimates that nearly 300 million individuals own cryptocurrency worldwide, up from about 100 million in January 2021, and about one in three individuals ages 18–29 have invested in cryptocurrency, according to Pew Research Center.

Notably, even though older generations who tend to be wealthier are less likely to hold digital assets, 17% of middle- and upper-income earners say they’ve invested in or used cryptocurrency. These two groups—young people and high earners—helped drive a twelvefold increase in cryptocurrency giving to Fidelity Charitable last year, which reported accepting about $330 million in cryptocurrency donations in 2021. 

Remarkably, despite all this growth in crypto philanthropy, there’s evidence that charities are missing out on would-be donations. Forty-six percent of those who hold digital assets in donor-advised funds (DAFs) at Fidelity Charitable said that it was difficult to find charities that accept cryptocurrency, and 44% found giving cryptocurrency to be cumbersome.

So, while some large charities such as UNICEF and the American Red Cross are finding it easier to offer charitable givers the option to donate cryptocurrency, many others lack the infrastructure to accept digital asset gifts or, if they can facilitate crypto giving, aren’t visible to prospective donors. Some intermediaries and DAFs are working to simplify the process for both donors and nonprofits, but more will need to be done to make giving digital assets as straightforward as writing a check. 

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