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An evolution in giving — NCSSM Foundation now accepting philanthropic gifts in cryptocurrency

NCSSM and the greater Unicorn community have long been known as trailblazers. That tradition continues as the NCSSM Foundation has just become the first UNC System institution to accept philanthropic gifts in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

“The new wealth created by Bitcoin is going to drive an incredible amount of philanthropy in the coming years,” says Ben Davenport ’93, CTO and Co-Founder of BitGo. “I’m very excited to see NCSSM help lead the way by accepting Bitcoin for donations. Even if it doesn’t help generate a large number of donations in the near term, I expect the donations it does generate to be significantly larger than average.”

The move toward crypto was spurred by inquiries from cryptocurrency-holding alumni interested in using the digital currency to support NCSSM. Over the course of a few months, officers of the Foundation gained insight into the cryptocurrency market from financial officials at institutions such as Princeton, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Notre Dame, who were already accepting gifts funded by cryptocurrency.

After thoughtful discussion back at NCSSM, the NCSSM Foundation Board agreed to move forward with this initiative. A cryptocurrency vendor (CoinBase) was vetted to handle the initial transactions, and the Foundation’s gift acceptance policy was revised to account for this new way of doing business.

For the Foundation, it’s all about meeting donors where they are by adapting to new modes of giving, says Barbara Coury, NCSSM’s Vice Chancellor for Development and President of the NCSSM Foundation. 

“Deciding to give some of your money away is often a difficult and time-consuming decision,” Coury says. “The last thing a potential donor needs is a series of cumbersome and unnecessary roadblocks to maneuver around. That’s why we took it upon ourselves to go through this process and learn about best practices regarding cryptocurrency gifts and set ourselves up to easily accept and convert them.” 

Foundation Board Treasurer Katherine Manuel agrees: “The world is changing, with financial markets seeing disruption just as significant as any other industry. We are proud that our alumni are at the forefront, blazing the trails both globally and within our NC school system at large.” 

For more information on how you can donate cryptocurrency to the NCSSM Foundation, please contact Karen Barlow, major gifts officer, at