NPTECH Interview with Jason Shim, Digital Media Manager, Pathways to Education
“What are the quickest ways that you can send money to someone?” That was the question posed by Jason Shim when he visited us at NTEN’s NTC ’14 in Washington, D.C. last week—just days before receiving the celebrated 2014 NTEN Award.
I answered Jason similarly to most people: “PayPal or, maybe, cash?” He pointed out that, while each can get the job done–they also each have a downside: PayPal incurs charges and sending cash in the mail really isn’t a good idea for obvious reasons.
So, wrap your brain around this concept: A form of decentralized digital payment that can transfer money electronically, anywhere in the world. This disruptive new form of payment is called Bitcoin and Jason Shim is happy to share his experience using it, with us to all learn from.
What is it? It’s a form of digital payment.
According to Bitcoin’s site http://bitcoin.org/en/, it”…uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks…it is open-source, its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part.”
Bottom line: It provides instant, worldwide, peer-to-peer transactions with zero or low processing fees.
Shim utilized this new payment method to raise $2,200 from November 20 – late December 2013 for Pathways to Education —and made history by being the First Canadian Bitcoin fundraiser with tax receipts.
When meeting in person, it becomes very clear that this is a project about which he is incredibly passionate and rightfully proud. Shim’s enthusiasm is so infectious that the mere suggestion of an idea that it would not succeed–just seems ludicrous. He is so enthusiastic that I have been inspired to learn more about this virtual wampum, myself.
But, the characteristic that trumps enthusiasm and passion is knowledge. And Shim is incredibly knowledgeable about Bitcoin. About what it is and how it works. He understands that being an expert on this new form of payment is a necessity to get a project like that off the ground. And this was an excellent opportunity to “future-proof” his organization for the changes inherent with digital currency down the road.
Why use Bitcoin?
- Payment is direct from the donor, which greatly reduces traditional processing fees (their fee was .1%).
- Allows for anonymous donations. As you probably know, there are people who shy away from making contributions to a cause for the fear of being “hit up” by a number of other causes.
- Opportunity to tap into a segment of potential donors that haven’t been asked to donate already—and are enthusiastic about using this form of digital payment–called The Bitcoin Economy.
- May be very appealing to techie Millennials, who are generally accustomed to using the internet for a variety of purchases, giving more opportunity to engage those who are early adopters of Bitcoin.
When asked about the challenges introducing a new currency posed at his organization, Shim explained that the greatest challenge was ensuring that everyone understood what Bitcoin was and how it worked. So by providing the right information to his organization–enabling them to understand the “what” and “why”, Jason was able to gain their support—and make history.
Suggestions from Shim on “How”:
- Learn as much as possible about Bitcoin and prepare to speak knowledgeably to your board, management and your team. (see the list of resources below to help)
- Use it. Figure out how to purchase a small amount of Bitcoin and participate in Bitcoin forums to learn from others.
- Bring balanced facts about Bitcoin to your meetings, to temper the sensational stories that have made the news.
- Investigate the various exchanges to be sure you get the best deal. He used Canadian Virtual Exchange. Bitpay.com is another exchange that serves individuals and organizations outside of Canada.
Here are some useful resources to learn more about Bitcoin:
Bitcoin for Nonprofits: http://bitcoin100.org/
While there’s no guarantee you will now make history or win a prestigious award, gaining an understanding of a new technological tool and how it can be employed by to elevate your cause goes a ways to making you more important to your organization.