Depending who you ask, NFTs are either a new and exciting way to invest, or a bearish, overhyped sector. Regardless, journalists, investors and collectors have paid significant attention to the growing NFT market in the past year. NFTs continue to be one of the most popular Web3 entry points, an opportunity for everyone from casual art fans to crypto billionaires to own a unique asset stored on the blockchain.
As NFT visionaries have recently pointed out, NFTs also have the potential to be used for incredible causes beyond digital asset collection. In the past six months, communities have launched NFTs to raise support for causes like testicular cancer, human trafficking and the war in Ukraine. While many believe the NFT trend is finally on the path to sustainable growth, its potential as a tool for charities is poised to reach exciting new highs in the coming months.
This mission-driven innovation is not a new concept for the crypto and Web3 worlds. Metaverse worlds connect people that may have otherwise never met in the real world. Digital currencies and DeFi have created financial access and freedom for millions, if not billions, of people. In the closely related longevity space (the science behind healthier, longer human lives), research advancements are making it possible for people to live comfortably in their bodies for longer. The world we live in now is vastly different than it was even five years ago — and it isn’t stopping. The next element to be disrupted (or, in my view, upgraded) will be charitable giving through NFTs.
Related: NFT philanthropy demonstrates new ways of giving back
Showcasing your support
Back in the mid-2000s, we saw a trend where supporting your favorite causes became fashionable. Bright yellow Livestrong bracelets, WWF shirts and tote bags sporting charitable foundation logos became an easy way for people to show to the world that they cared about a certain cause. While bumper stickers and printed water bottles remain a common avenue for people to show off their philanthropic side today, there is a lack of high-quality, top-level rewards that offer the same visibility. When donors give to a charity, their contribution is typically only recognized with a “thank you” note and the opportunity to have their names listed on a commemorative plaque. This is definitive proof, but it lacks the engagement and community that people find inspiring.
NFTs linked to charitable giving are making showcasing charity support fashionable in the digital world. NFTs created by charities are not only developed with a cause in mind — they are also designed to be attractive and exciting. Buying a mission-driven NFT also gives one a beautiful piece of digital art to show to the world. With Instagram and Spotify moving to bring NFT functionality to their platforms, the future of NFT-driven donations looks like it will be increasingly social. There is the potential for communities already on these social platforms to rally around meaningful causes, as we saw happen with the Twitter community helping fund a member overwhelmed by high medical costs. The crypto community has proven itself to be a powerful force time and again, making me confident in a bright future for NFTs and charity.
NFTs benefit artists and foundations
While there is a lot of attention given to the latest celebrities joining the NFT craze and new drops with rare art, less explored is what purchasing an NFT actually means for a charitable organization. I’ve mentioned before that it is time for the philanthropic sector to embrace the crypto wave, as embracing digital currencies and technologies like NFTs can attract visionary investors keen on innovative ideas and new ways to look at the world.
When these visionaries, or anyone, purchases a purpose-driven NFT, they have the opportunity to uniquely showcase their support for a cause. It is also important not to overlook the artist in these conversations. Creators are using NFTs to redefine their relationships with supporters, including encouraging their fanbases to support causes they care about. There is a common misconception that purchasing NFTs is a new way for investors to spend money.
Mission-driven NFTs are challenging this narrative by showing the world that NFTs are a way to unite charitable giving and supporting artists. They are allowing organizations to benefit from new technology while still remaining true to their mission and values. I believe longevity is one field that will adopt this technology with ease. Longevity supporters are forward-thinking luminaries who also happen to be crypto enthusiasts — a perfect match for NFT-related giving. I expect we will see more on this very soon.
Related: While men wanted, women did: Empowering female creators with NFTs and crypto
A new approach to charitable giving
In general, the phrase “charitable giving” has had an element of “old-school” philanthropy. It reminds me of writing paper checks sent through the mail to your favorite 501(c)3. Of course, this still makes you feel good about supporting a cause, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of ongoing engagement. Building a community of innovation-focused and passionate supporters is an incredible way for charities to reach new audiences and achieve their fundraising goals. It will, however, take a shift in the way we think about giving to make this a reality.
In my opinion, the new charitable giving is crypto-native, social and decentralized. By accepting crypto donations directly, you can give to foundations directly, without having to cash out your crypto and be subject to tax responsibilities. The social element of giving will empower you to highlight the causes you care most about through your NFT collection. And it will be truly decentralized, which means that anyone, anywhere in the world can support meaningful causes. While donor recognition dinners may become a thing of the past, a virtual network of connected supporters with diverse backgrounds and perspectives offers an exciting alternative future. NFT-based utilities are also an incredibly powerful tool in helping communities track membership and reward contributions with perks and access to exclusive opportunities and services beyond the distribution of a digital image.
We’re living longer, and living in a more connected society than ever before. It follows that we should then be more supportive and philanthropy-minded — but, to do that, we need to bring charitable giving into the fold.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Garri Zmudze is a managing partner at LongeVC, a Switzerland and Cyprus-based venture capital firm accelerating innovative startups in biotech and longevity. He is a seasoned business expert and angel investor with several successful exits across biotech and tech companies. He is a long-time supporter and investor in biotech companies including Insilico Medicine, Deep Longevity and Basepaws.