Nonprofits are finding new virtual ways to fundraise during the COVID-19 pandemic — including through the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
NFTs, or one-of-a-kind digital assets, can be bought and sold like any other piece of property.
Macy's and the Make-A-Wish Foundation recently teamed up to sell NFTs of classic balloons from past Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades. One of those NFTs sold for tens of thousands of dollars.
All of the proceeds from the NFT sales go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In addition, 10% of the NFTs' resale value will automatically be donated to the foundation if they are resold.
"There is an insight that sometimes people like to have something in exchange for giving with philanthropy," said Janell Holas, the VP of brand and marketing with Make-A-Wish America. "Oftentimes, there's something that can be a badge of honor for giving, so NFTs are a wonderful way for people to give back to organizations that they care about while also having something that's really a token of their support, as well as a sense of pride, a way that they can really show that they've given back."
Holas says Make-A-Wish relies on partners like Macy's, who have expertise in emerging fields like NFTs, to address potential risks.
One such risk is the ambiguity around how NFTs could be regulated in the future.
"I would argue that it's important to have these conversations and to try to, at the very least. integrate the option of crypto-based donations and NFTs into ongoing operations going forward because of the way in which transactions are happening has already changed, and the overall marketplace is just catching onto that right now," said Sean Smith Stein, who studies NFTs and cryptocurrency.
Smith Stein sees the benefit of nonprofits using NFTs for fundraising because of the lower cost of processing a donation than a credit card. He also adds that the money is available instantly, which is not the case with other types of donations.
Holas says people who give to the Make-A-Wish Foundation are focused on the need that exists right now.
"The reality is for every wish we're currently granting, there are three more children who are waiting for their wishes to be granted," Holas said. "The only thing standing between us and being able to grant those wishes for children who are waiting is increasing our fundraising and being able to raise the revenue we need to grant those wishes."
Make-A-Wish says the majority of kids say getting their wish granted was the turning point that helped them overcome their circumstances.