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Tithe.ly COO Frank Barry explains how churches can accept bitcoin donations (and if they should).
December 23, 2019
Let's talk a little bit about if your church should accept Bitcoin donations.
I was doing a little bit of research because, being a tech company, dealing with online giving and mobile giving payments for churches, we want to stay up-to-date on things. The earliest I could find a church accepting Bitcoin as a donation was around 2013. We're in 2019 now. Bitcoin, maybe a little over a year ago, just skyrocketed up to $12,000 for one Bitcoin. And I think it's even today up in the $11,000 mark. It fluctuates like crazy.
The question of whether churches should accept Bitcoin donations is an interesting one. But we'll just take a quick step back and talk about what it is and some of the basics.
Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency. And there are thousands of cryptocurrencies out there. There's Bitcoin Litecoin, Ethereum, and a bunch of others that are out there. Bitcoin gets all the news and headlines so many argue that it will be the one that persists because it's already grabbed the mindshare of everybody. But it's just a digital currency. And so it's very different from regular currency. People don't know what to do with it.
Even the federal government is trying to figure out how to put regulation in place so that it can be standardized, regulated and monitored. But it's happening, and it's getting bigger, and there are churches that are taking Bitcoin donations today.
All you need is a digital wallet. You can create a digital wallet on something like Coinbase. It's a mobile app. You create your account. They simplify the process. You can go buy Bitcoin. You can accept Bitcoin that way. And there's a lot of detailed stuff to get into, but we don't need to go there. But you need your digital wallet. Your digital wallet can hold Bitcoin, Litecoin, and most forms of major cryptocurrency.
And then you can take those Bitcoin that somebody gives, and you can exchange them for real money. You just need a tool that will let you do that. It can be pretty simple. It's not as easy as taking a check in the offering plate or potentially taking a donation on your website, but there are people popping up who prefer to give in the form of Bitcoin. We have a partner company of ours called Engiven and they've created a great platform for churches where you can go create an account on Engiven. You can accept the Bitcoin donation. You can immediately convert that donation into cash into your bank account with ACH to be deposited directly in your bank account, and you're done. So it's just like taking any other kind of donation for that matter.
If you boil it all down, of course you should take Bitcoin as donations. It's just like taking a stock donation. Somebody wants to donate stock to you, and they want to give you 10 shares of Apple stock, or they want to give you a hundred shares of Microsoft stock, or something like that. You would take that as a donation as a church. And most churches would take that stock donation and immediately sell that stock and take the cash.
Every church that I've talked to is treating Bitcoin the same way. You create an account on something like Engiven. You take the Bitcoin donation. You immediately convert it to cash because you're not in the game of trying to make money as an investment. You take that converted to cash, and then you put it into your operating budget or maybe your savings account.
The world evolves. We weren't using cash and check 500 years ago, but eventually cash came, and then checks came, and then online giving came, and credit cards and debit cards came. Now Bitcoin has come. What will come a hundred years from now, we don't know. But the way money is being transferred will always change. As a church, you should pay attention. You should make it easy for people to give whatever they want to give. If they want to donate a car, find a way to take that and turn it into something. If they want to donate a Bitcoin, take that and turn it into cash. Put it in the bank account.
If you want to accept Bitcoin, you must have as a digital wallet such as Coinbase. It's the most popular digital wallet out there. Your church can create a Coinbase account. That will let you have a digital wallet for all of your cryptocurrencies. You can store them all there. You can store all your Bitcoin there, track your assets, and see if it's gaining value or losing value.
Engiven is a tool that we partner with at Tithe.ly. This partnership makes cryptocurrency giving or Bitcoin giving easier for churches. You can create an account as a church. It will create your digital wallet for cryptocurrency. You can accept a donation. They've got an online donation form. You can accept a donation of Bitcoin. It'll go into your Engiven account. And then right there you can convert that into cash, and they'll ACH you the money right into your bank account. Engiven's made it super simple.
And when it comes to Bitcoin and taking Bitcoin as donations, there's no risk because you can turn it into cash right away—you're not playing the market. You're not investing and trying to use it to pay your bills. You're not trying to pay off the mortgage. You're not being risky with the money. It was a donation, and you're converting it into cash at the value of the day you receive it. You’re able to extract all of the value from that donation. Because of that, there's really no risk. Nobody's going to steal it. It's not going to get stuck somewhere because Engiven automates the donation to deposit the funds directly into your bank account. going to help you do that. Therefore, the risk is minimal, if not non-existent.
Today on Modern Church Leader, Tithe.ly COO Frank Barry explains how churches can accept bitcoin donations (and if they should).
Watch the video of this episode here: https://get.tithe.ly/blog/churches-bitcoin-donations
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