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Brad Caruso (00:00):
Welcome to civic warriors brought to you by Withum on this podcast, we bring the conversation to you, sharing engaging stories that motivate and build consensus in the non-profit community. This podcast is about the innovators, the leaders in the frontline of adversity, guiding lights in the non-profit industry affecting change and through their stories, we can all join force to become civic warriors. Hey warriors. This is your host, Brad Caruso, the leader of the rhythms, not-for-profit practice. Welcome today’s episode of Withum’s civic warriors. We have two very special guests with us today. You know, a common theme that we’ve noticed in the market in discussion is around cryptocurrency accepting donations and a few other things from our clients. We’re seeing this more and more, and many of our are intrigued by the concept, but also may or may not be fully informed of both the challenges with it, as well as the opportunities and consequences of accepting and or holding a cryptocurrency. On today’s show to help us provide some clarity and talk about innovative solutions is James Lawrence, the co-founder of Engiven and serves as the company’s CEO and Engiven is a leading cryptocurrency donation management platform providing end to end giving solution benefitting non-profits and their donors. Also with us is Izzy Tannenbaum. Izzy is our not-for-profit tax expert and individual cryptocurrency connoisseur. He is over 15 years of experience helping non-profits and also just purchased his first home in the metaverse. So welcome to the show, James and Izzy. Happy to have you here.
Izzy Tannenbaum (01:17):
Thanks so much.
James Lawrence (01:18):
Thanks, Brad. Great to be here. Thanks Izzy.
Brad Caruso (01:21):
So, James, I, I wanna start out and maybe ask a little bit about Engiven how did you come up with the idea and bring it to life?
James Lawrence (01:26):
Well, you know, Engiven really evolved out of an experience that I had, and my co-founder Matt Hayes, who was obviously hugely involved in this with our former company, which was called Mogiv and that company, we started back in early 2009 and that company really came out of a desire that we had to help charities get into digital fundraising. And we started out with something that we thought was kind of simple, which was develop a text to give solution. And we were really the first ones to do that. And, you know, that’s kind of ubiquitous now, but back then, it was pretty novel. We wanted to be able to give any amount via text and there was another service that was out and you could text $10 to the Red Cross or what have you. And we thought, you know, wouldn’t it be great if you could text $5,000?
James Lawrence (02:12):
And so we developed a platform to do that, and we quickly realized that charities were a little bit behind the curve relating to digital giving. And so we quickly expanded that into a full, full blown donor management platform. And it was really right as the digital giving, you know, a credit card ACH giving started to really grow. And so we kind of hit that right at the right time and really just got to understand the complexities around digital giving. And that company ultimately was acquired in 2016. But if I kind of go back a little bit, really around 2012, I started getting interested in blockchain and cryptocurrency specifically Bitcoin, and a good friend of mine who’s kind of into early technologies, convinced me to really dig into Bitcoin. And I bought my first Bitcoins in, in early 2013 and just had kind of watched that market evolve over that period of time.
James Lawrence (03:06):
And I kind of, in the back of my mind, I was always thinking, you know, could crypto be used for good? Is there something here? And is it really digital money? You know, can it be used for the benefit of charity and it was kind of always just percolating. And so after we sold the company, we kind of took some time off and I spent quite a bit more time looking at crypto. Obviously in 2017 was kind of the big year for Bitcoin and some new, uh, you know, ICOs were happening on a major basis globally. And I just decided that I wanted to try to start talking to some charities about crypto. And so as we kind of moved into 2018, I realized that so many non-profits were sort of out of the loop. Let’s just say, as it related to cryptocurrency, sort of, they had maybe heard of Bitcoin, but what they heard was generally not very good, you know, the dark web and silk road and people were using Bitcoin to buy guns and had that sort of negative connotation.
James Lawrence (04:02):
Like basically Bitcoin is bad. We don’t wanna touch it.
Brad Caruso (04:04):
Not values in the non-profit industry.
James Lawrence (04:07):
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So it was a really difficult sell early on to see if non-profits would be interested. And most of them weren’t and the ones that were usually it was somebody that was really technical. Maybe they were a former programmer or whatnot, but I found a few and we decided to kind of start this dialogue. So again, Matt Hayes, my current business partner and I decided, Hey, let’s spend as much time as it’s gonna take on the sort of complexity side of, of crypto. Like how can we demystify it? How can we figure out what the regulatory environment compliance, taxation, what’s it all look like right now. And, and maybe what’s it gonna look like in a few years and try to understand what that could be. And we spent close to 18 months just kind of in the analysis side of crypto. Like I said, kind of understanding, well, if we do this, what does the flow of funds look like?
James Lawrence (05:03):
How do we set this up in a way where a charity can easily understand it? It’s a compliant process. We understand the taxes and we can pass all that information through the charities so that they don’t have to be experts. They can just kind of turn it on, let it work for them and focus on their missions. And so, as I said, about 18 months into that, we decided that we wanted to go ahead and build a platform. We still didn’t really know how many charities would be interested, but we had, we had a handful that said, Hey, if you build something, we’ll come check it out. We’ll try. And so we spent about another year really in product development, trying to figure out how we could in, in a compliant way, enable non-profits to benefit from crypto. And really, I would say we kind of hit that really nice product market fit, right as we finished up 2020 and kind of got into to 2021. And, and what resulted was, I think a methodology that we now use that really enables non-profits to participate fully in the world of crypto. And then obviously with 2021, the, you know, the market just took off and we went from having to convince charities that Bitcoin crypto whatnot was okay to, you know, how quickly can we onboard you and equip you to be able to talk intelligently with your donors and talk about it. So in terms of helping charities, we found a pretty strong focus on that initial part, which was getting them, you know, to understand it.
Izzy Tannenbaum (06:29):
I think that’s exactly right. What we’re really seeing is that this has been really a generational wealth creating event with the advent and the adoption of crypto as it continues to grow. And so I think in a lot of cases, you know, it’s great when the charities are going to their donors and talking about this, but a lot of times you’re having the donors bang down their door because to the point you were making earlier about tax planning and it being tax advantageous to donate versus selling. I think that’s what a lot of donors are trying to do with this. So charities are to some degree scrambling to be able to accept these funds from their donors. It’s great that you’re helping to facilitate that because I just can imagine they’re banging down the door at this point.
James Lawrence (07:09):
Indeed. I think certainly as we concluded Q4, the volume of applications on for our platform or whatnot, we’re really through the roof. So I think a of that was clearly driven by existing donors, wanting to get those end of year donations in, and it is a process. And, and I think that’s probably important to talk about. And that’s many charities are kind of starting from zero. So they have very little crypto understanding. They almost always will have somebody that’s within their team that’s a champion that that’s been involved in crypto and has probably been pushing from the inside to try to get them to accept it.
James Lawrence (07:44):
But I think that’s a really important part, which is that educating of the non-profits so that the different staff of the organization who have different responsibilities, who donation touches them in some way, they really need to be up to speed so that they feel like they’re not sort of pushing against something that they don’t understand. Educating on blockchain and compliance and taxes is really kind of that first part that we experience in terms of helping is just getting them to that comfort level where they can say, okay, yes, we’re gonna do this. And then the next is really a technology solution. Obviously we’re talking about that here. And that’s what Engiven does, but it’s so critical because most charities use some form of donor management service. Even if it’s something as simple as a PayPal button on their website, which is pretty old school, but some people still do that.
James Lawrence (08:31):
You’re having someone help facilitate that process. And I would say crypto donations are even more so complex from the standpoint of needing a technology platform, do this. And I say that because all of the things that are required for your standard donation, you know, receipt and whatnot are required for crypto donations as well. But then there’s some additional nuances around crypto that even many donors don’t even understand. And it’s important for the organization to be able to reach out to them and say, oh, you donated this crypto over $5,000. Do you know, you need to file a form 8283 and get an appraisal. Those are the kinds of nuances that I think are really important. And hopefully a technology platform will help provide the heavy lifting, you know, now particular area for them. And then I’d say lastly it’s communication. We really help the non-profit communicate well to their donor base.
James Lawrence (09:20):
And we’ve found that the non-profits on our platform that are able to kind of communicate effectively to their donors are really able to generate more donations. And I think that goes, you know, to what you were saying and that sort of generational wealth, there’s a lot of, of new wealthy crypto folks out there that are looking to make some of their first major gifts to non-profits and being able to speak that language to them is pretty important. And having a platform where they feel comfortable doing it, where they’re not having to necessarily transfer crypto from their account to your account and not feeling like it’s safe. That’s a really important part of the process as well. And what’s exciting is we’re seeing some, you know, really kind of new younger charities jumping in. And we’re also seeing some really old school charities, like for example, The Salvation Army who has really been a leader in adopting crypto pretty early, it’s pretty exciting to see folks like them that are doing a great job at kind of all of these things.
Brad Caruso (10:16):
What are you seeing in terms of cryptocurrency? You know, I’ll ask two things here. One, how do you define a cryptocurrency? And just so the audience can understand that basic level of education, you know, most people assume that cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, which obviously Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and operates on a blockchain. And then what are common cryptocurrencies that you’re currently seeing, being donated just to give a little, a little context behind Bitcoin versus others? The common thing I find a lot is that people automatically assume that Bitcoin is the thing, and it’s the only thing out there and that’s it, that’s cryptocurrency. And you know, you go on a coin base, you go on an app and there’s thousands of these things.
James Lawrence (10:52):
And I think, you know, Bitcoin’s a great example. We can definitely talk about some others as well, that are newer are in doing some really interesting things in the space. But, you know, I think from a beginner standpoint, Bitcoin’s always fun to talk about because it’s something just about everybody has heard of, and just about everyone that I know, and probably you too that owns crypto has a little bit of Bitcoin. It’s kind of like that first crypto that you buy when you’re starting to dip your toes in the water. And I think, yeah, I mean, I can talk a little bit about Bitcoin versus blockchain versus other cryptos and whatnot. Cause I think sometimes people intertwine the names and aren’t necessarily sure what it all means. Let’s talk about Bitcoin. It is the first crypto that was invented back in 2009. It’s the largest by market cap.
James Lawrence (11:36):
So I’d have to check to day, but looks, the markets are up a little bit. And I think we’re at maybe 750 billion in terms of market cap. So it is the largest. And if you compare that kind of the rest of the overall tradeable crypto market of 2 trillion or so, you know, it’s about a third plus of the overall crypto market. So it’s kind of the king of crypto. It was invented and, or deployed back in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, which is a name that people probably hear and don’t necessarily understand what it is, but it’s the person who invented Bitcoin. And no one actually knows the person the person’s never come forward. So we don’t really know. Some people think that it was created as a response to the 2008 banking crisis that, that many of us experienced and was kind of a product that came out of that in an effort to avoid government related currencies, you know, Fiat currencies and whatnot.
James Lawrence (12:28):
We don’t know, all we know is that it was deployed and we can talk a little bit about its architecture. Some people may not know this, but there’s roughly 21 million Bitcoin that are gonna get minted. So once all of those are minted, there won’t be any more newly issued crypto. The current supply is just over 19 million. So we’re actually getting toward the end of new Bitcoin being minted online. And I believe the last Bitcoin will be minted in 2140 based on all the, the analysis I can tell you from our platform about half of all the donations that we see on our platform are in Bitcoin. And as an example, we processed a 10 million Bitcoin donation for a charity back in September. You know, so I think Bitcoin does seem to be the most donated. We, we do see donations of many other tokens as well, but that as seem to be the most popular.
James Lawrence (13:15):
And then I think, you know, to talk about the difference between Bitcoin and blockchain, for example, Bitcoin is an example of a cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is digital money, if you will. And I like to call it a digital asset because it’s actually not very easy to spend as money as most people have found out. And also there’s some interesting tax rules about every time you exchange Bitcoin for something else, it’s a taxable event. So if you want to go buy coffee with your Bitcoin, you have to essentially address the capital gains issue of the amount that you used to buy that coffee, which is not very, you know, useful. So most folks think of it as you know, digital gold, which I think is actually kind of a good representation of what it is only, you know, it doesn’t have any weight. So it’s got all this value, no weight, it’s easy to store, it’s easy to transfer.
James Lawrence (14:05):
So from that perspective, even though there’s not specific utility built into the architecture of Bitcoin as a store of value, if it’s a pretty good asset, cryptos; a lot of people don’t know where they come from. So cryptos are created by, uh, companies or software programmers that develop tokens with specific functions, um, utility there’s always a certain supply. They are based on a smart contract, which is generally sort of an immutable or unchangeable contract. So that the game doesn’t change while you’re playing it so to speak. And that’s why Bitcoin, for example, only has a certain amount of tokens that will ever be minted. That’s not going to change. We typically call that tokonomics or kind of the, uh, the economics of how the token is created, it’s makeup. Cryptocurrency is built on blockchain and blockchain is essentially a, a public distributed ledger.
James Lawrence (14:58):
So it is an accounting system, if you will, for keeping track of transactions that occur between individuals and whatnot. So if I send Brad a hundred dollars in Bitcoin, that transaction will be registered on the Bitcoin blockchain, and it’ll be there forever. Can’t be changed. But people, if they look at that transaction will really only know that my wallet sent his wallet a hundred dollars. They won’t know that, or a hundred dollars worth the Bitcoin. They won’t know that it’s myself and Brad. So the blockchain doesn’t have any specific personal information on it, but it’s distributed in the fact that everyone has access to it all at the same time. So it’s different than a bank’s general ledger from that perspective. The other thing too, I think that’s important to talk about on blockchain is that, you know, you’re probably seeing some commercials on TV or you’re hearing about blockchain in real estate or blockchain in healthcare.
James Lawrence (15:48):
And it really just is in infrastructure technology where transactions that benefit from having multiple parties participating in transparency in that transaction. It’s really great for those kinds of things. So, uh, for example, if you were to take a real estate transaction, usually it’s a pretty linear process. This happens, then the next thing happens. It goes to the next, the next phase or whatnot in blockchain, you could see where all the participants in that transaction would have access to all the material all at the same time, it reduces the complexity and provides a layer of transparency. So Ethereum, Bitcoin, DogeBitcoin, Litecoin. There’s all kinds of different cryptos. Many of them use the Ethereum blockchain, Bitcoin has its own blockchain, and then various other tokens or coins like Cardano or Solana, whatnot, you know, they have their respective blockchains. So again, blockchain is just more of the infrastructure upon which the token data is represented.
James Lawrence (16:46):
Um, so that’s kind of a five minute, what is Bitcoin in blockchain? But I think that those are the key things to know, as you kind of weighed into that particular idea.
Izzy Tannenbaum (16:55):
This is just really emerging in terms of really starting to hit the mainstream in both adoption and people starting to look at this type of technology and see, okay, what different kind of things can we use it for? So it’s to some degree, just really the tip of the iceberg in terms of how this will be adapted over time. To me, it feels a lot like when the internet was first kind of rolled out to the public at large, no one really knew exactly how this was gonna shape our lives in the future, but we really did know that it was clearly a time changing technology. Um, and I think this is gonna be the next one. And now I think is really where it’s just starting to hit its stride where again, it’s hitting the mainstream.
Brad Caruso (17:33):
Yeah, no doubt. And I think that background is so important and I mean, I had to buy a Bitcoin for dummy’s book just to start grasping the concept of blockchain. And my favorite part about the book is it gives you the whole history. And I think your analogy to gold is a common analogy that makes a lot of sense, you know, evaluating the pros and cons of a digital asset, right? The accounting rules would say it’s a digital asset because the accounting rules are a little wacky over accounting for a, a Bitcoin versus a stable coin type environment where it’s pegged to a currency. It is more of a digital asset it’s trading based on people’s perception of that digital asset. And like you said, there’s a limited supply to it. How did they come up with 21 million? Is that just based on like a number of characters that could ever exist or do you know how the 21 million cap got ever set?
James Lawrence (18:12):
I think it was clearly subjective, so we could sit down and we could write a smart contract today for a token to create. And, and we could say, well, we’re gonna have 50 million or a billion or a trillion. It really is pretty subjective. There may be some theories around why it was that particular. I’m sure there’s a lot that has happened with Bitcoin that whoever created it could not even conceive of it at the time. I remember when Bitcoin was under a hundred dollars and I remember thinking, wow, that’s a lot of money for a digital currency at the time.
Brad Caruso (18:43):
That’s what I think about NFTs these days. I’m like, it’s a lot for digital art. That’s a lot of money.
James Lawrence (18:48):
Yeah. Yeah. NFTs. Wow. That’s probably a whole podcast.
Brad Caruso (18:52):
That’s another discussion.
James Lawrence (18:53):
Super, Super interesting. Probably too much of a jump for most charities to want to get into NFTs, but there are some great opportunities in NFTs as well. And we certainly are investigating and, and working on some of our own ways to address that.
Izzy Tannenbaum (19:10):
And I think that’s just another way that the technology is being adapted that, you know, a couple years ago, you never would’ve imagined that would be talking about these non-fungible tokens. It’s gonna be exciting to see how this is applied going forward.
Brad Caruso (19:22):
So, James, I guess my next question here, and I, I think important to discussion, why would a, not-for-profit, if I was a, not-for-profit, you know, why would I use a platform like yours or how does a platform like yours help non-profits, what would drive a, not-for-profit to say, you know, using a platform like yours, as opposed to opening their own wallet and just accepting it and dealing with the consequences of it. What are some of the benefits that, that you’ve seen or some of the common issues that you’ve helped solve, I think is an important thing to talk about.
James Lawrence (19:46):
Yeah. I think the first is there are many ways to accept cryptocurrency donations. You know, as I said, we’ve been at this for almost four years. And so we’ve had the opportunity to speak with literally thousands of charities and some of which that started out very early, kind of creating a wallet, a Bitcoin or Ethereum wallet and whatnot, and someone transferred it to them and then they had to self custody. So there’s always this issue of custody around crypto it’s like who actually has it, that’s the tricky part because most charities, their gift acceptance policies do not afford them the opportunity to hold assets. So if someone donates an automobile, for example, the char is generally not gonna hold it. They’re gonna liquidate it, take the cash and go about their mission. And crypto’s really in that same boat. So as you alluded to crypto is designated as a property by the IRS.
James Lawrence (20:36):
So that’s its official designation. So when a donor gives crypto of any kind to a charity, they are in fact giving property. And we can talk in a minute a little bit about that and why that’s different than for example, someone donating the a hundred shares of Google or something. But I think the main side of that is that some non-profits that we have spoken to have kind of gotten themselves into trouble for two reasons. One is that when you self custody, you are essentially holding that asset one, you need to make sure, as I said, you have a, a gift acceptance policy that supports that many don’t. So they were sort of going against their own policies by holding crypto. Two, we’ve had charities come with paper, wallets with software wallets, with hardware wallets. So there’s all these different types of wallets that a charity might have or an individual might have to custody the crypto themselves.
James Lawrence (21:23):
And they’re almost always based on having a, you know, secret key that gives them access to that wallet. And the problem with the secret key or a password, whatever we wanna call it is that they can get lost a staff person leaves or somebody dies, or the piece of paper it was written on or a file that it was on got hacked or whatnot. It’s just the security side of self custodying. It’s not for the timid. And I think that’s part of, you know, we have literally helped dozens of charities that got themselves into a situation where they had wallets, that they couldn’t access or whatnot. And, and we, we sort of helped them try to move those assets into a place where their, either custody through our custody solution or their in most cases exchanged. And we’ve also had situations where individuals within the organization went and set up a, you know, Johnny was an intern and set up a Coinbase account and the donor made a donation to his Coinbase account.
James Lawrence (22:17):
Now he was working for the non-profit, but that donor just gave a donation to John, not to the non-profit. And so we’ve had situations where the non-profits had to unwind those gifts and, and whatnot. And so the platform really provides the end to end solution that really protects the donor. And it really protects the non-profit. And there’s a couple of things that happen in that process between donor and non-profit that are sort of nuanced, but really important. And one is that exchanging crypto into US dollars, organizations that do it now are regulated. So they essentially have to adhere to most of the banking regulations that exist in America. So for example, our main exchange partner is Gemini trust, which is a trust company out of New York. And they’re regulated in the same way, more or less the Bank of America is regulated. And so when clients are onboarded onto our platform, they are also kind of under the compliance umbrella of Gemini.
James Lawrence (23:16):
So when a donation comes directly from the donor, it actually goes into their own account at Gemini. We have an API integration, which allows us to do certain things on their platform on behalf of our customers, but at the end of the day, that exchange that happens needs to happen a compliant framework. And so when you have a donor who is just giving, you know, transferring, let’s say Bitcoin from their wallet to a wallet that the non-profit sets up at bitcoin.com, for example, they still have to take that asset and exchange it somewhere, which means that that non-profit has to go and sign up with Coinbase or with Binance US or Gemini, whatnot, get an exchange account and then move those funds to that exchange account. Then they have to exchange them. Then they have to wire or ACH the funds. So there’s quite a few steps in the process that they’re gonna have to do if they try to do it themselves without a platform. On a platform like ours, we automatically exchange it 24/7. So they have no market risk. And then we transfer the funds each banking day into their local accounts. So the custody piece, also, we can talk a little bit about that. We do have a custody solution for non-profits that want a custody. I say this knowing that most non-profits don’t and should not custody crypto, not right now, I think there’s too much market risk, but for the ones that have kind of a long term view on crypto and their board understands it and their finance people are on board with it. What have you? There’s no reason why they shouldn’t in the same way where they might wanna have a portfolio of other kinds of assets for the long term, but they shouldn’t do it themselves. Our custody solution is integrated with Gemini.
James Lawrence (24:46):
It goes into cold storage, it’s insured, and they don’t have to worry about losing their secret key. They can hopefully get the benefit of that appreciated asset over time, and they don’t have the stress of self custodying. So I think that the platform piece, in addition to custody and automatic exchange and whatnot also does a lot of the heavy lifting, like sending out receipts and addressing some of the other issues with data in data out customer data, being able to make sure that they’re able to care for their donors by having the right customer information and just really giving the donor an elegant giving experience. Cause I think that’s a really huge part of what we strive for and that’s to make the giving process really nice for folks. So they wanna keep doing it.
Brad Caruso (25:28):
Yeah. And can you just elaborate on, when you say the crypto goes in cold storage?
Izzy Tannenbaum (25:32):
We were joking about that earlier, what is like a refrigerated truck driving around with the crypto goes in the crypto freezer? Yes. Uh, so cold storage is.
Brad Caruso (25:42):
Uh, goes to a remote location in Antarctica.
James Lawrence (25:45):
Uh, actually it does go somewhere and I think that’s like not knowing is part of it, but so yes. So, you know, Gemini, as I mentioned is one of the largest custody providers, you know, in the country and if not the largest at, at this point and one of their specialties is being able to essentially take crypto that you own and essentially hold it for you and what they do is they put it into an offline storage facility, if you will. So that, that crypto is not accessible through sort of common ways that people would access the asset. I mean, I, I guess I would look at it like the standpoint of, let’s say you had $10,000 in your bank account and you wanted to keep it, you, you didn’t want it to be available in that bank account at any given time. So you remove it from the bank account, you put it in a suitcase and then someone goes and puts it in an underground storage facility, somewhere in the Antarctic.
James Lawrence (26:38):
It’s kind of like that. I guess I would say. The good news though, is that it is easily accessible. So we have the ability for our clients if they choose to have their donations or some of their donations put into cold storage. And then if they decide at a moment’s notice, Hey, we want to go ahead and liquidate. They can do that. They don’t have to wait a week or a month or anything like that, but it’s just a really safe way to custody your assets, your crypto assets. And I highly recommend using a well established cold storage solution. Um, there are multiple ones out there Gemini provides a good one, but there are others as well.
Izzy Tannenbaum (27:12):
Well, and I think that helps out a lot. The fact that if an organization can go through a provider like yourself, where that gives them some assurance, that they’re only dealing with people who are legitimate, who are actually gonna hold assets. Because I think like you said, there’s so many people out there who are starting up different things related to crypto. It’s very easy to fall into the wrong situations. And then, like you said, you have to unwind transactions, make mistakes. So I agree with you. It’s very important that you use a provider who really understands the space and can help guide you through that. The other point, what you were saying about organizations and their acceptance policy, it’s something Brad and myself say to all our clients that they really do need to take a look and update their policies for cryptocurrency acceptance, because if it isn’t relevant for them yet, or it hasn’t been brought to their attention yet by a donation, then it certainly will be in the near future. So it’s something that they really should be proactive about.
James Lawrence (28:09):
Yeah, definitely. I think, you know, about of our customers have donors that have been kind of ready to go and, and make donations. And so I think that’s certainly a motivator for them. And then I’d say, you know, the other half are just seeing and hearing about what’s going on and they want to be ready. And I think that it’s important to note that because there is a compliance and regulatory aspect to non-profit corporations receiving and exchanging crypto the process to get set up, to do it, can take a little bit of time. So that’s part of, one of the reasons why you might wanna just go ahead and start your due diligence process, do it before the donors ready to give so that you’re ready to accept it. And don’t necessarily have to push that donor off for weeks or months. I mean, typically we can get somebody onboarded and ready to go within a few days, but you don’t always know. And a lot of times, like you said, that gift acceptance policy might need some board discussion and, and well, non-profits boards don’t meet more than once or twice a year. So there’s some due diligence that could be started kind of early in the process. And we know for a fact, crypto donors that wanna make those donations, especially at the end of the year. And if the organization they care about won’t accept it or can’t, they generally will find one that can’t. So you wanna just be ready.
Brad Caruso (29:16):
Yeah, definitely. And you know that that’s a big concept. I think that preparedness, I think, you know, non-profits are not as agile all the time because there is a board, some board members these days could be stubborn. There’s a lot of considerations. I’ve heard certain environmental organizations that I work with may be adverse to the concept altogether, or you may not get consent across the board. So there’s a lot of things. Yeah. And I think you brought up some great points, James and Izzy on considerations of, you know, you’re gonna get approached at some point. So you really want to have your strategy in place now. You wanna have your policies in place. You wanna have your approach to this, as well as a partner like yourself that helps with facilitate and making it easy for the donor. Cuz as you said, there are plenty of not-for-profits.
Brad Caruso (29:54):
There’s 1.6 million not-for-profits in the United States. There are plenty of places that probably can accept it and will accept it. If you, as a, not for profit are not able to. So, you know, do your research start getting affiliated, start getting assimilated to the concept, be like me and read the book Bitcoin for dummies so you can just have a good general sense. And certainly it helps. I guess, lastly, just to bring it home here for our listeners out there that are not for profits that are looking to get more involved, how can they contact you? What’s the right way to kind of approach Engiven and get started with the process.
James Lawrence (30:24):
Yeah, we’ve made it really easy to get more information or to sign up and Engiven.com is kind of where we present as much as we can. And I think we, as I talked about earlier, we really try to focus on making sure that the organization is really ready. And so, you know, a lot of folks are like, Hey, I wanna sign up now I’m ready. And that’s great. Other folks really want to take the time. We’ve had some of the multinational non-profits on our platform took months and months to really work through the process to make sure that everyone was on board and they got all the right boxes checked what and whatnot internally. And so my encouragement is just take the time you need to do it right for your organization. And that means both internally look at different applications, look at what’s out there, but if you’re ready, we’re ready to start that equipping and onboarding process, which is something that we do to make sure really, by the time you are ready to take a donation, you’re feeling pretty good about technology, about how to do it, about how, how the processing works about how to talk to donors.
James Lawrence (31:23):
That’s just a process that we’d like to take all of our clients through. Some don’t need it, but the ones that do we’re happy to do it. And I think if you’re a staff person or a volunteer or whatnot, and you’re kind of a crypto champion, then I think they’re looking for you to help. Because like I said, it, it always takes that one person to be the catalyst to kind of push things forward. Now a donor can do that too. So if you’re a donor and that would be my other suggestion is, Hey, if you’ve got crypto and it doesn’t have to be, you know, a lot of crypto donated and that will also help get folks motivated, you know? And, and just kind of reminds me, we didn’t talk about this really, but one of the things I wanted to point out, and this is if someone’s made it this far in the podcast, hopefully this will be really nice and juicy for them.
James Lawrence (32:04):
Is that being in the fundraising software world for many years, I think our average donation for a credit card was roughly $150. And our average donation in 2021 was over $25,000. And so even if we take out our top 50 clients, it’s still around $10,000. And so crypto as an asset to donate is just the best tax benefit asset right now that we’ve seen. And the donations, while there will be fewer, they tend to be much, much larger. And we’ve seen many non-profits that were not huge non-profits are regional ones that receive six and even seven figure crypto donations. That’s part of the encouragement is that there are 15% or so plus of your donors have crypto and a small percentage of those have a lot of it. And I think that’s where the organization can really get focused on talking to donors and being ready because what we are seeing is major gifts. Crypto is, are really going after the major gifts right now. And I think that’s pretty unique. It’s a pretty unique opportunity. You know, you’d have to have the stock market go up tenfold to see the kinds of donations that we’re seeing. So that’s another hopeful motivator. And if you’re one of those folks who have that kind of crypto start by encouraging the non-profits, you care about to accept it.
Brad Caruso (33:20):
Yeah. I love that message. And that context I think is super important to understand it and really the opportunity that if you’re not involved in this or not learning about it, you may be missing out. You know, we’re looking at the future here and it’s being drafted as we go. And there’s no room for the weary in this case. And certainly, uh, a lot of opportunity for not-for-profits to fundraise, to change the, to evaluate a way to do it from our perspective, like, you know, me and Izzy said, we’re seeing this and I’m sure you are too. You’re probably fielding phone calls nonstop about what does this mean? How do I deal with this? What are some of the consequences? What do I need to think about, what am I not thinking about? What questions am I not asking you? So the time is now to start really getting involved in this James Izzy, you know, really appreciate your time today. Really appreciate having the opportunity to discuss cryptocurrency, to discuss your platform Engiven and to discuss how you’ve helped many non-profits already. And I’m, I’m sure that volume of non-profits that you’re helping is gonna boom as we look at the prices of the cryptos, and we look at the opportunities, as you said, to have favorable tax positions, as well as help a non-profit for the donors out there that listen to this, certainly those gifts are helping non-profits in a platform like yours and, and your, you know, mindset towards it is helping them. So we really appreciate your time. And thanks for listening everybody it’s been great.
James Lawrence (34:30):
Thanks so much for having me.