Cryptocurrency that Cares – Interview with The Tor Project

This is part of my ongoing series about Digital Currencies. This is my interview with Andrew Lewman who is the Executive Director of Project Tor. It’s short and very direct. And we wouldn’t expect anything else from someone who advocates for “an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.” Enjoy!

And don’t forget the Bitcoin Webinar we are hosting with NTEN. Have you registered yet?

 What are the risks for a nonprofit that wants to take Bitcoin? What are the benefits?

This isn’t an exact answer, but it’s our reason for accepting bitcoins. Tor’s fundraising differs from the traditional model. Since Tor’s goal is to give people the tools and information they need to take back control over their data, we don’t do direct mail campaigns. We don’t buy email lists, and we don’t share donor information with other organizations. Bitcoin allows donors to limit the amount of information they give us. Even if we wanted to shower them with tote bags and address labels from other nonprofits, we don’t have their physical address to sell.

Bitcoin users and Tor enthusiasts share a commitment to decentralized systems that allow people to come up with solutions for their communities’ problems. Tor relays are run by people who want to give people who face censorship the same access to information that they have. Hackers and makers gravitate towards Tor and Bitcoin, so we’re being responsive to our community by taking Bitcoin.

 With the IRS ruling that Bitcoin is not a currency, should nonprofits be scared to deal with it at all?

Bitcoin should be treated like non-currency donations. We treat it like a stock/bond donation and convert it to US dollars on donation per our investment policy.

 How would a nonprofit even approach to start taking Bitcoin for donations? Who would they hire to enable it with their current systems?

We use BitPay to handle all of the bitcoin part of the donations. They convert to fiat currency on donation.

 If a nonprofit wanted to experiment with taking bitcoin, how would they start? Events? Galas? Mobile campaign?

Start with Bitpay and integrate it into your existing donation workflow.

How long before we see wide acceptance (in small to mid-size nonprofits) of Bitcoin or other digital currencies?

I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t predict this. (Editors note: See what I said about “to the point”?) 

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