Cryptocurrencies saw monumental growth over last year, and despite recent volatility, people are opening up their hearts and wallets to noble causes.
In one case, an anonymous philanthropist opted to donate an amount of bitcoin to the tune of $5 million to the California-based Open Medicine Foundation (OMF). The funds came in the form of two donations, one for $1 million last month, and another $4 million from the same donor this month, identified only as "Pine" from the Pineapple Fund.
According to the OMF, the funds will go a long way to help fight diseases. Linda Tannenbaum, founder and president of OMF, said, "This significant donation will help OMF accelerate and expand current research into ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), and other chronic complex diseases, and to keep fighting for a better future for patients."
According to a message from "Pine," letters from academics in support of the OMF influenced the decision to donate the large sum to the foundation.
The OMF has a BitPay account, which has been set up for around a year, and can receive anonymous donations in the form of bitcoin. A similar system has been developed by UNICEF on the Ethereum blockchain, which allows users to donate their computing power to mine Ether, which is in turn donated to UNICEF.
UNICEF wants to use the cryptocurrency it gathers to help 13.5 million Syrians mired in "the most appalling humanitarian crisis of the past 20 years." To lend mining power to the cause, users must download and run Claymore, an Ethereum mining application.
Instructions on the charity's website direct users to "Install the software Claymore and launch it to mine whenever you want, and without lifting a finger or spending a euro you will generate funds right into UNICEF's wallet." The project will last another 57 days, during which, progress on the funds can be tracked online.
Another recipient of Ether, this time directly from Vitalik Buterin (the founder of Ethereum), is the SENS Research Foundation, which is focused on regenerative medicine and anti-aging efforts. Buterin donated approximately $2.4 million to the organization.
Referring to the research of chief science officer at SENS, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Buterin expressed his motivations:
"I've been a fan of Aubrey's work since I first read Ending Aging when I was a teenager, and I am happy to have been blessed with the opportunity to personally support SENS's efforts. Their focus on creating solutions to the diseases of aging, one of the greatest problems facing humanity, is very much in line with my goal to positively impact the lives of millions of people around the world."
Mike Kope, CEO at SENS, said of Buterin's charity, "SENS Research Foundation is honored to be the recipient of Vitalik's incredible generosity ... His support is critical to SENS Research Foundation's expansion of our programs ... Our work to cure the diseases of aging is dependent on the generous support of our donors and we appreciate his support tremendously."
SENS has also received two anonymous donations from the Pineapple Fund in form the bitcoin, each worth $1 million.
As the overall sentiment of the cryptocurrency ecosystem is centered on inclusion and decentralization, the humanitarian efforts of those who act as leaders and participants reflect a desire within the ecosystem to make the world a better place.