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Vault12 Blog

How to make Crypto and NFT donations to Nonprofits

Maximize the power of your digital donation.


Summary
Just like that, cryptocurrency and non-fungible token (NFT) digital donations are now the fastest-growing new type of donation to charities around the world. Consider these 2 top points:

1. Over $300M in crypto has been gifted in the last year, and most recipient nonprofits have opted to auto-convert cryptocurrency to dollars or equivalent upon donation.

2. More sophisticated ways to receive crypto gifts, like endowments and trusts, can hold cryptocurrency for future conversion.

This article is for donors - it explains the benefits of making crypto donations, and describes some of the options for more sophisticated and impactful giving.

Two related articles describe other perspectives of crypto donations:

A companion article targeted at nonprofits helps them understand how they can benefit from accepting crypto donations.

An article for U.S. Congressional representatives guides them toward resources that help them to accept crypto donations.

Advantages of making Crypto donations

Amongst the many reasons for donors to make cryptocurrency donations, three main advantages stand out:

  1. Cryptocurrency and NFT donations are tax-efficient for both the donor and the charity. Donors pay no capital gains tax, and nonprofits receive 100% of the donation tax-free. Nonprofit charities are exempt from paying capital gains tax when they sell assets, so the full value of the gift stays intact.
  2. Crypto donations to international nonprofits can be transmitted and tracked more easily.
  3. Nonprofits have flexibility in how to realize the gift value - they can convert to a currency-based asset type immediately to avoid potential volatility, or they could hold the funds ("HODL") as an investment in the form of an endowment to fully realize its value and impact over time, e.g., the Charity Water Trust.

Tax-efficiency

To illustrate the tax-efficiency of crypto donations, consider this example from Fidelity Charitable that shows a calculation of how much more of a donation is received from donated crypto versus if the donor had converted it to cash first.

Chart showing example of a bitcoin donation and comparison with converting to dollars versus donating as bitcoin - from Fidelity Charitable.

Fidelity Charitable

  1. This example assumes that all realized gains are subject to the maximum federal long-term capital gains tax rate of 20% and the Medicare surtax of 3.8%. It also assumes no additional state or local taxes.
  2. The amount of the proposed donation is the fair market value of the appreciated crypto-asset held more than one year that you are considering donating as determined by a qualified appraisal.
  3. The tax basis is assumed to be $300,000. If you sold the bitcoin for $1,100,000, you would have $800,000 in capital gains and would pay $190,400 in tax.

Crypto is Fast, Transparent, and Secure

Using traditional methods, a donation transaction is conducted via credit card, ACH, or wire transfer - perhaps even via a cheque. These transactions take days to clear, often incur fees, and are subject to chargebacks if there is a problem with the payment.

Cryptocurrency donations are more efficiently transferred to nonprofits anywhere in the world, usually in less than 10 minutes. Since all crypto transactions are recorded on the Blockchain - a ledger that is publicly accessible - all transactions can be easily tracked and verified by the donor and the nonprofit.

Tax Implications for donors

In the U.S., crypto donors pay no capital gains taxes on donations to 501(c)3 organizations. This is a huge benefit for the donor for an activity that would otherwise trigger a taxable event.

In addition to having no capital gains taxes due, the donation of appreciated crypto creates a tax deduction for the donor equal to the fair market value of the donated crypto asset. A win-win situation.

When you compare the costs of making a donation from crypto assets directly with the costs when using post-tax assets, the donor would be subject to a minimum of 23.8% federal long-term capital gains on post-tax asset donations (and perhaps more at the state level, depending on their state of residence). There are currently no federal capital gains taxes levied on crypto donations.

Other countries, including the UK, have also moved to reduce or eliminate capital gains on cryptocurrency rewards.

Additional Resources:

IRS Crypto FAQ
101: Crypto Tax Guide
Crypto Tax Survival Guide

How to make Crypto Donations

There is no universal approach to making a crypto donation. However, many service providers work directly with nonprofits to make sure that it is easy, simple, and safe to make and receive donations. By far the most helpful of these service providers is The Giving Block. (The Giving Block also offers this helpful Crypto Glossary for Nonprofits.)

The first step in giving is finding a nonprofit that can accept cryptocurrency donations. Here are some ways to find one that fits your donor goals:


(If you are a nonprofit: get yourself on these lists!)

Here is a sampling of charities that accept crypto donations today:

Holding on to Crypto Donations to maximize impact

So far, we have discussed the scenario where a crypto donation is made by the donor, and the nonprofit auto-converts that donation into cash - as is usual with augmented assets. However, with cryptocurrency and NFTs, there is an opportunity to make a far more lasting impact with the gift - if paired with appropriate safeguards against volatility.

Many charities now accept crypto endowments. For instance, Charity Water set up a trust that receives crypto donations and holds them for the next 5 years. At the end of 5 years, the crypto assets can be sold.

Similarly, the Wharton School has received large bitcoin donations to stimulate more crypto giving. These donations are backed up by the donor to ensure that the school receives a minimum value in case the price of crypto goes down.

Donor-advised funds, Charitable Trusts, and Community Foundations can also receive gifts in bitcoin and ETH - if the nonprofit can accommodate.

  • Platforms like NYDIG that focus on endowments and other sophisticated gifts of digital asset donations for universities and charitable institutions.
  • Other platforms that are focused on providing donors with tax advantages via Donor Advised Funds (DAFs), including Endaoment a tax-exempt community foundation that helps nonprofits receive their very first crypto grants, Fidelity Charitable, the largest donor-advised fund in the United States, with over $35 billion in assets, and its main competitor, Schwab Charitable, with over $17 billion.

The $5M Bitcoin Donation to the Wharton School

"The $5 million bitcoin gift in May was more complex. The donor wanted it to be large enough to attract attention that would help the university get similar donations. At the same time, the donor wanted the money to fund research and programs at the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance at the Wharton School.The donor wanted the university to hold at least some of the donation in bitcoin, but the issue of what would happen if it plummeted in value had to be resolved.

"Our policy had been to traditionally sell everything immediately, even if it had been $5 million in stock," Mr. Zeller said. "So the donor and the university agreed that he would backstop it. He gave us $5 million in bitcoin. We liquidated some; we're holding some. But he said, 'I guarantee that at the end of the day you'll get $5 million whether it's in bitcoin or something else.'"

Excerpted from "Nonprofits Get a New Type of Donation: Cryptocurrency" by Paul Sullivan, July 30, 2021
(Subscription may be necessary to read the original article.)

How to make NFT Donations

NFTs are unique records of physical or digital assets that are are transacted on blockchain networks in similar ways to cryptocurrency, and as such, can be donated to nonprofits in much the same way.

So what makes NFTs suitable for charity? Well, according to a report by the World Bank, people are more likely to donate to charity if they feel they will receive something in return. This explains why many fundraising efforts employ the use of auctions and events to raise money. In the case of NFTs, this effect can be compounded by the social status that owning an NFT from a charity auction can provide; users can prove that they have been charitable, which makes them more likely to donate.

In addition, blockchain technology allows the funds donated to charities to be tracked, ensuring there is greater trust and accountability for charities that can demonstrate that their funds have been effectively used – making blockchain potentially a game-changer for the charity sector.

There are several ways to gift an NFT:

  • Gift an NFT outright - Most NFT platforms enable you or the original creator to gift an NFT, which is then transferred to the nonprofit's crypto wallet address.
  • Select an NFT to be auctioned by the donor, with proceeds sent directly to the nonprofit in cryptocurrency. There are lots of NFT platforms, in particular Foundation.app has done a good job of enabling proceeds to be sent to a variety of charities automatically.
  • For creators - Decide on a physical or digital asset to donate, mint the NFT, and configure the smart contract in such a way that whenever the article is sold, in perpetuity, a percentage goes to the nonprofit's crypto wallet.

Examples of NFT Donations

Tax Implications for NFT Donations

Per the IRS, any crypto-to-crypto transaction is a taxable event. Since NFTs are crypto assets, and are purchased using cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum (ETH), buying an NFT is considered a crypto-to-crypto trade by the IRS - and this means that you're subject to taxes when buying and selling NFTs.

Thus, simply creating an NFT is not a taxable event. But all of the following NFT activities are taxable:

  • Purchasing an NFT with cryptocurrency
  • Trading an NFT for another NFT
  • Disposing of an NFT for a cryptocurrency
  • Disposing of an NFT in exchange for fiat currency, or a non-crypto asset.

When you purchase an NFT with cryptocurrency, you're also disposing of that cryptocurrency. This means that you are also liable for capital gains taxes on any increase in that cryptocurrency's value.

For example, if you purchased a CryptoPunk NFT for a price of 5 ETH when ETH was $1,000 (for a total purchase price of $5,000), and later sold it for 3 ETH when ETH was $2,000 (for a total sales price of $6,000), you would recognize a taxable gain of $1,000 from your NFT sale.

But there are really two transactions in this scenario: the first, when you bought the NFT, and the second later when you sold the NFT.

For the first transaction - when you spent your 5 ETH to buy the CryptoPunk - let's say that ETH's value had increased from $600 to $1,000 during the period of time that you held it. So when you used that 5 ETH to buy your NFT, you were disposing of $5,000 worth of ETH for which you had only paid $3,000, and therefore you would have owed tax on that $2,000 capital gain.

In other words, when you first bought your CryptoPunk, you incurred capital gains tax on the gain that you enjoyed from an increase in your ETH's value. And then several years later, when you sold your Punk, you incurred tax from your gains on the NFT itself.

In sum, because crypto is considered an asset, you will incur tax liability when you trade crypto for an NFT—and when you dispose of said NFT for crypto.

Profit earned from an increase in the demand for a cryptocurrency is generally subject to the regular capital gains tax rate. However, this is not necessarily true with NFT transactions, as many NFTs may be considered collectibles, and thus subject to a higher capital gains rate, or in rarer cases, as inventory, and thus subject to income tax rates.

From a charitable giving perspective however... the proceeds from an NFT sale can be transmitted to the nonprofit in cryptocurrency, and therefore be exempt from Capital Gains, and a full deduction is available.

Source: Excerpted from NFT Tax Guide by Token Tax.


Donations from your Cryptocurrency Project

Just as traditional corporate donations achieve the dual goals of helping nonprofits and creating good publicity, corporate crypto donations demonstrate a positive commitment to social good and to the future of the crypto industry.

Many initiatives are designed to structure corporate crypto donations effectively. One such initiative is the Crypto Giving Pledge. This platform enables individuals and companies to donate 1% of their crypto assets every year, results in an immediate, annual impact for the nonprofits and their missions, and enables donors to conveniently offset their crypto capital gains tax burdens every single year.

More Charitable Giving: If the entire crypto community took the Crypto Giving Pledge today, that would mean $20 Billion for nonprofits.

Lower Tax Bills: Donors who give crypto to charities can erase their capital gains tax burdens in addition to writing off their gifts.

- The Giving Block

Social Giving

In addition to your direct crypto donations throughout the year, there are numerous opportunities to join with other people and donate cryptocurrency - which is often matched by generous philanthropists:

  • #BitcoinTuesday - similar to #GivingTuesday
  • #BAGSeason - an end-of-year #BitcoinTuesday campaign focused during the month of December resulting in a Bitcoin Annual Gift
Look out for these events on social media.

Crypto Tax Services from Mike Minihan and BX3

Mike Minihan, Managing Partner, BX3 Capital

Mike joined BX3 Capital in 2018 after more than 20 years as an international tax attorney and entrepreneur. He has seen virtually every aspect of international taxation, having worked for the Internal Revenue Service, in private industry, and for Big Four public accounting and tax consultancies KPMG and PwC. Mike was a founding partner of WTP Advisors, a boutique international tax consulting firm that specialized in assisting the world's largest companies with the thorniest of tax structuring and compliance issues.

Over the years, Mike has also founded or co-founded several other tax focused start-up ventures. After the successful sale of WTP in 2014, Mike joined the international income tax practice of Ryan, LLC, a specialized tax service firm, where he stayed until the start of his second consultancy career at BX3. Over the years, Mike has also founded or co-founded several other tax focused start-up ventures.

Mike joined BX3 to help build the business side of growth-stage companies. BX3 helps companies secure growth capital, but also manages numerous C-Suite functions for its founders, including accounting, tax, legal, marketing and public relations. Utilizing his experience as an entrepreneur, attorney, and taxation expert, he is helping guide BX3's clients through the inevitable issues that plague start-ups in these areas.

Mike holds both a BBA (Finance) and a JD from Pace University, and an LLM in Taxation from New York University. He is admitted to practice law in New York, Connecticut and the District of Columbia.

His entrepreneurial feats were chronicled in Fortune's "David vs. Goliath" segment, and he has been a frequently used source by the Wall Street Journal on matters related to international taxation. He has written numerous articles and lectured copiously on taxation issues. In September 2018, Mike provided guidance to a Congressional panel consisting of numerous members of the House and Senate on the taxation of cryptocurrencies. Mike has also served as a visiting professor at Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business.

BX3 is staffed by passionate professionals with decades of combined experience in finance, investment banking, marketing, accounting, tax, and law. BX3 uses its expertise to raise funds and provide the necessary tools and framework to turn ideas into successful businesses across a variety of sectors. It works exclusively with clients and partners who reflect its own core principles of collaboration, ethics, and transparency.

Crypto Legal Services from Philip Berg and Otterbourg P.C.

Philip Berg is chair of Corporate Practice at Otterbourg P.C., and has twenty-five years of legal experience specialized in corporate mergers and acquisitions, finance and securities offerings, and blockchain and cybersecurity law. Phil is Chairman of Otterbourg's Corporate department and Chairman of the firm's Privacy and Cybersecurity practice.

At Otterbourg, Phil has led a push into the field of blockchain-based smart contracts and cryptoassets, including representing clients in exempted security token offerings. He has represented public and private businesses, private equity firms, financial institutions, and entrepreneurs in the acquisition and divestiture of businesses, private placement of equity and debt securities, joint ventures, commercial financings (secured and unsecured), and general corporate matters.

He is an active member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US). He is also active with the Wall Street Blockchain Association and the Chamber of Digital Commerce, both influential industry groups for the cryptocurrency and digital assets industry.

Phil previously served as a corporate attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, where he completed over $1.5 billion in corporate transactions and financings for Fortune 500 clients. He also served as a corporate acquisitions executive at PRIMEDIA, Inc., a Kohlberg Kravis Roberts affiliate, where he structured the acquisition and divestiture of numerous divisions and businesses, as well as a broad array of minority equity investments.

Additionally, Mr. Berg served as law clerk for Hon. Thomas H. Meskill, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. In law school, he was Executive Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. He has served on the boards of directors of several privately-held companies. He is admitted to practice in the State of New York.

Otterbourg offers clients a unique combination of legal insight and practical solutions and is known for its integrity, stability, and business knowledge. Otterbourg attorneys represent financial institutions (including banks, asset-based lenders, hedge funds, finance companies and insurance companies) and corporations and other business enterprises. It helps clients with financing transactions, acquisitions, investments, litigation, and alternative dispute resolution, real estate transactions, workouts, restructurings, and bankruptcy proceedings.

After more than 100 years, the firm continues to expand its capabilities in order to meet its clients' needs. Prospective and current clients, law students, lateral attorneys, and legal staff are encouraged to explore the Otterbourg website, and to connect via its "Contact us" page for more information.

Protecting cryptocurrency and NFTs with Blake Commagere and Wasim Ahmad, Vault12

Blake Commagere is the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Vault12, and a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and advisor to several companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has started seven companies and sold five of them. In 2007, he created the social gaming category by building some of the biggest apps ever (over 50 million players) on Facebook, including the iconic games Zombies, Vampires, and Werewolves.

Blake also wrote and designed the first version of "Causes on Facebook," which has over 120 million users, and has raised over $100 million for various charities. He regularly gives talks on subjects including Philanthropy, Growth Hacking, Fundraising, and Psychology Management.

Blake graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Rice University.

Wasim Ahmad is the Chief Crypto Officer of Vault12 and is a serial entrepreneur with five exits. Wasim is an advisor in the fields of AI, the blockchain, cryptocurrency, and encryption solutions. At Vault12, he led the private and public fundraising - one of the world's first Security Token Offerings (STOs) - and focuses today on expanding the Vault12 ecosystem. His crypto experience began with AlphaPoint, where he worked with the founding team to promote the world's first crypto trading exchange solutions.

Previously he was a founding member of Voltage Security, a spinout from Stanford University, that launched Identity-Based Encryption (IBE), a breakthrough in Public Key Cryptography, and pioneered the use of sophisticated data encryption to protect sensitive data across the world's payment systems.

Wasim serves on the board of nonprofit StartOut, and is a Seedcamp and WeWork Labs global mentor.

Wasim graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and French from the University of Sussex.

Vault12 enables crypto investors to create a digital vault where assets can be stored (no cloud, no personal footprint to be hacked/lost). Seed phrases put in a vault are encrypted and split (using Shamir's Secret Sharing), and then distributed to designated trusted people, Guardians, from amongst friends and family - e.g., 5 or 10 people. Digital Vault users can set a minimum threshold of confirmations to retrieve assets, such that for example 3/5, or 5/10 confirmations may be needed to unlock and access an asset or to recover a vault.

The Digital Vault innovation includes a seamless end-to-end consumer experience that gracefully handles situations such as losing a phone and recovering the crypto vault assets, or replacing a designated crypto Guardian.

To support crypto inheritance, one of your Digital Vault trusted Guardians is identified as a beneficiary, and has the ability to recover all the assets - with appropriate safeguards for preventing unauthorized access of assets. For more information and to download the Vault12 app, please visit vault12.com.

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