This week, an anonymous bitcoin investor announced that he or she has created a philanthropic foundation called the Pineapple Fund, which will distribute 5,057 BTC (roughly $86 million US dollars today) to charity and nonprofit organizations. The staggering sum of bitcoin holdings, the request for anonymity by the founder, and the desire to have a positive impact are all impressive. What’s equally impressive is what this might inspire in the future, in terms of bitcoin and crypto whales realizing that lambos and CryptoKitties don’t need to be the only focal point for cryptoasset investors.Let’s be optimistic and hope that the founding of the Pineapple Fund is a signal, or a beginning, of a new sector in the crypto space.
A developing crypto economy needs civil society
Beyond supporting some really good projects, what if the Pineapple fund is a high profile example of the emergence of civil society within the crypto space. One indicator that an economy is developing in a healthy way is the emergence and support of civil society organizations. Civil society refers to projects, agencies, citizen groups, etc. that are created and supported outside of the scope and control of government or business sectors. These organizations generally advocate for the interests and needs of people and help fill in critical gaps like health, education, and well-being that aren’t necessarily adequately covered by government programs or business activities. Economic development projects around the world are created to support civil society efforts as a means of health and sustainable growth.While the crypto economy is booming in terms of market cap, entry of new projects into the space, and creative and talented technologists, what seems to be lacking are tangible applications that will improve lives and make the world better (which is one of the undergirding ideas behind moving toward decentralized systems, right?). OK, that’s not entirely fair. There are (and there’s probably more that I’m not aware of yet) other existing projects that leverage bitcoin for good. Like Sean’s Outpost, which is a project that supports homeless populations in Florida primarily through bitcoin donations; and BitGive, which received support from the Pineapple Fund and advocates for bitcoin fundraising for social benefit projects around the world.But there’s something about the Pineapple Fund that seems different. Maybe because it’s scalable, or maybe it’s because the fund models the way we understand traditional philanthropy. Either way, it’s also a great way of getting more people to understand the value of cryptoassets as a new and legitimate form of value creation.
Building more cryptoasset philanthropic infrastructure
I’m personally interested in developing more projects that leverage cryptoassets for social good.Following the devastating natural disasters across the world over the last few months, but particularly following the wildfires that destroyed homes, lives, and property here in California, I had this idea about developing some sort of decentralized app toolkit that could be spun out and deployed following disasters. The project would accept cryptoasset donations and then be able to help local aid organizations to use those donations to support on-the-ground efforts. This dApp would be immediately deployable and accept a number of different cryptocurrencies. The goal would be to create a funding mechanism that is global in reach and immediate in timescale. Also, it would be transparent and verifiable. The problem is, I’m not really sure how to build something like that, so I’m looking for partners, help, or general guidance. If you are interested, please let me know. Meantime, I look forward to following the impact of the Pineapple Fund, and hope to see more projects like it in the future.