The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has announced the launch of a pilot scheme that will allow the charity to accept donations in Bitcoin, a form of digital currency, making it the first major charity in the UK or Ireland to do so.
Unlike conventional currencies, Bitcoins aren’t printed or minted – they don’t physically exist and are not controlled by a bank or government. Instead they are created and held electronically, allowing users to conduct transactions over the internet. They form part of a growing category of money known as ‘cryptocurrency’.
The RNLI has chosen to receive Bitcoin donations via a dedicated page (RNLI.org/Bitcoin). The charity says that if the scheme is successful it may look at integrating Bitcoin into its standard donation pages.
Leesa Harwood, RNLI Deputy Director of Fundraising and Communications, said: “The RNLI has a history of innovation in fundraising, holding the first street collection in 1891. Bitcoin is an innovative new kind of currency and we believe that accepting Bitcoin will result in donations we may not otherwise receive, as well as connecting us with new types of supporters.”
Leesa added: “From our research into future trends, it looked likely that we would receive digital currency as a donation or as part of a legacy at some point and we wanted to be prepared for that eventuality. So a project team was founded to look at the feasibility of accepting Bitcoin, which has led to the pilot scheme we are launching today.
“We want to lead the way in accepting and benefiting from all forms of digital currency, so we’re running this scheme to allow our supporters to donate Bitcoins through a secure online system. We’ve chosen Bitcoin as it is an established and widely recognised digital currency.
“This is a pilot scheme and we are looking forward to seeing how it will proceed as part of our interest in cryptocurrencies and how they may work in the future. We will of course closely monitor how much money is donated. We already have safeguards in place to monitor donations, however we receive them.”
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