American Heart Association Begins Accepting Cryptocurrency Donations

AHA recently started accepting cryptocurrency donations after several potential donors asked about it. To ensure it had a donor- and staff-friendly process in place, the organization thought through its policy and partnered with a cryptocurrency expert.

In recent years, cryptocurrency has risen sharply in value, making it a hot commodity among investors and purchasers. In addition to investing in the currency, some want to use it to make donations to organizations they support.

Because cryptocurrency is a relatively new asset class, not every association has the mechanics in place to be able to accept it—but doing so could widen an organization’s donor pool. For this reason and others, the American Heart Association recently began accepting cryptocurrency donations to fund its work.

“We have always embraced innovation, and we’ve always been committed to meeting people where they are,” said Paul Kalil, AHA’s executive vice president of mission advancement. “Right now, more and more donors want to give through different vehicles—be it stock donations, gifts of real estate, or gifts of cryptocurrency.”

Interest in giving in cryptocurrency is not isolated to AHA. A 2021 study from Fidelity Charitable noted that many people want to donate cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, those donors haven’t found it easy to make such gifts, with 46 percent of those in the study saying it was difficult to find charities that accept cryptocurrency. And of those who found organizations willing to take crypto donations, 44 percent found it to be a “cumbersome process.”

Knowing how important it was to have a donor-friendly process, AHA partnered with donation platform The Giving Block to help it accept cryptocurrency. While having a partner who understands cryptocurrency is extremely helpful, an association still needs to do some foundational work before it can accept crypto.

“First, we established a donor acceptance policy,” Kalil said. “We said what types of gifts we would accept period, not just cryptocurrency.”

Then, they had to decide which cryptocurrencies to accept. While many people think of cryptocurrency as only Bitcoin, there are more than 12,000 cryptocurrencies in the marketplace and 1,000 new ones are being added each month. So, it’s not realistic for an organization to accept all of them. Through its cryptocurrency giving site, AHA accepts more than 70 cryptocurrencies, a list it created with help.

“We looked to industry leaders about what the recommendations would be,” Kalil said. “And then we deferred to some of the Giving Block’s expertise on that as well.”

Another key concern for associations considering accepting cryptocurrency is making sure the process doesn’t add undue burden to internal staff, while also making it as easy as possible for donors.

“It’s worth making sure you’ve got the right systems in place internally, the right partners to work with externally, and that you’re as donor-friendly as possible,” Kalil said. “People don’t want 17 clicks before they’re able to give, so make sure it’s an efficient process on the front and back end.”

Finally, Kalil suggests talking to volunteers and donors about how they want to give and being responsive to their feedback.

“We spend most of our conversations with volunteers and donors talking about why they’re involved and why they’re giving,” he said. “There are more and more and more discussions about how people are giving, so we end up with creative giving vehicles.”

How does your association accommodate different types of donations? Share in the comments.

(Liliya Filakhtova/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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