California regulator will revisit long-running ban on crypto donations on May 19

“This has been on our radar since late last year,” said California’s Fair Political Practices Commission communications director Jay Wierenga.

A California state regulator may be looking at overturning a ban on cryptocurrency donations to political campaigns which has been in effect since 2018.

According to its May 2022 agenda, California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, or FPPC, has scheduled a “pre-notice discussion” on Thursday on the use of cryptocurrencies for campaign contributions in the state, opening the topic to public comment before officially revisiting it. The commission said it will be considering drafting amendments to its regulations requiring that “no contribution may be made or received in cryptocurrency.”

In September 2018, the FPPC voted to ban both sending and receiving crypto contributions for political campaigns in the state of California, due to concerns the donations “might be utilized to circumvent contribution limits and prohibitions, or by foreign entities to contribute to campaigns.” FPPC’s communications director Jay Wierenga told Cointelegraph that the commission “look[s] at trends and [tries] to stay ahead of them,” citing a March opinion in which its legal division said a campaign selling nonfugible tokens to raise funds must count “the entire amount received” as a “reportable contribution.”

“This has been on our radar since late last year,” said Wierenga. “Crypto […] obviously has grown in usage and visibility since 2019. So the Commission wants to review it and determine if any changes should be made, or not.”

According to Wierenga, the current ban on crypto political campaign contributions has not affected candidates running for office in California at a federal level, just state and local. For example, Aarika Rhodes, an elementary school teacher running to represent California’s 32nd congressional district currently held by Democrat Brad Sherman, has openly called for her supporters to donate Bitcoin (BTC) via the Lighting:

Related: Crypto-focused PAC has used $9M to support Democratic candidates since January

Commissions and other governing bodies in U.S. states are responsible for determining whether to enforce bans on crypto political donations for state and local campaigns. South Carolina’s House of Representatives ethics committee said in 2018 that the definition of a campaign contribution did not include cryptocurrency, and Colorado capped the amount of donated in crypto to the same levels as fiat.

Crypto donations fund ATVs and gas masks for Ukrainian military

Ukraine’s ministry of digital transformation has utilized cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens, even CryptoPunks, in an effort to fund its military and humanitarian aid.

Ukrainian officials have used funds from the crypto donation platform launched by the government to purchase supplies for the country’s military amid its ongoing war with Russia.

In a Friday tweet, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, announced that the country had purchased five all-terrain vehicles, which “will come in handy for a challenging environment” — possibly referring to conditions near the front lines with Russia or where roads have been damaged or destroyed. Funds for three of the ATVs originated from Aid for Ukraine, a platform the government launched in March that accepts crypto donations “to support people in their fight for freedom.”

At the time of publication, Aid for Ukraine has reportedly raised more than $60 million in Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), Polkadot’s DOT, Solana’s SOL and USD Coin (USDC). Fedorov reported on Wednesday that the government had already used some of the funds to supply 5,000 gas masks to state border guards and the army. Aid for Ukraine has also purchased more than 5,000 “optical and thermal imaging devices” for the nation’s military since the war began; tablets aimed at helping Ukrainians escaping the country find accommodations and aid; bulletproof vests; medical supplies; vehicles; and clothing

Related: The Ukraine invasion shows why we need crypto regulation

Since the beginning of the Russian military invasion in February, the Ukrainian government has turned to the crypto space many times as a solution for receiving funds from concerned parties. Fedorov announced in April that the government would accept contributions toward the war effort in the form of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which will in turn be sold to “contribute to the Ukrainian victory,” and it recently launched a charity NFT collection with pieces from Ukraine’s video game developers and digital artists.

‘Ready, steady, NFT:’ Ukrainian government accepts NFT donations

Ukraine continues to use crypto and NFTs to fund the two-month long ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, tweeted that the Ukrainian government will accept war effort contributions in the form of nonfungible token (NFT) donations and purchases. Via the official “Aid for Ukraine” crypto fund, individuals can donate cryptocurrency, fiat and now NFTs. So far the initiative has raised over $60 million, according to the website. 

All funds go toward supplying Ukrainians with weapons, medical gear, medical kits and other expenses outlined on the Aid for Ukraine website. Total expenses amounted to $45,103,538 by April 14. The Aid for Ukraine platform is powered by crypto exchanges FTX and Kuna, and staking provider Everstake. 

The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine is the beneficiary organization of several NFT projects including Russia For Sale, which sells Russian lands in the form of NFTs, and Holy Water, which supports local Ukrainian NFT artists, among others. Those who buy an NFT from one of the organizations will contribute directly to Ministry’s crypto wallet.

At the time of publication, the NFTs donated by “UkrainianCryptoFund” and available to bid on in OpenSea come from collections such as CryptoPunks, mfers, MoonCats, TIMEPieces by Time Magazine, CREYZIES and Chubbiverse Frens. All of these collections only accept Ether (ETH) for payment. 

Just as the Ukrainian government has fully embraced digital assets to support humanitarian efforts, many Ukrainian and Russian citizens have had to familiarize themselves and accept using crypto to support themselves. Cointelegraph spoke with some of the people who haexperienced the advantages of Bitcoin (BTC) firsthand and some of the blockchain companies that have been thriving amid the war. 

Related: Binance announces crypto card for Ukrainian refugees

Fedorov first signaled in a tweet on March 3 that the government would soon be using NFTs to help pay for its military. Since then, the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine has also launched a virtual NFT gallery to keep alive the memory of the war. 

Crypto-focused PAC has used $9M to support Democratic candidates since January

The Protect Our Future PAC used more than $9 million toward mainly digital, television and radio ad buys for U.S. House of Representatives candidates’ campaigns.

Protect Our Future, a political action committee set up in January, with backers including FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, has spent more than $9 million to support candidates running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to expenditures reported to the U.S. Federal Election Commission, as of April 14, Protect Our Future has used $9,024,317 toward supporting the campaigns of Carrick Flynn, Lucia McBath, Shontel Brown and Jasmine Crockett to represent separate districts in Oregon, Georgia, Ohio and Texas, respectively. McBath and Brown are incumbent candidates, while Crockett currently represents Texas’ 100th District in the state’s House of Representatives.

Protect Our Future used more than $5 million toward mainly digital, television and radio ad buys for Flynn, a political newcomer who lived outside the United States for several years until recently. The PAC contributed roughly $2 million in ad buys and production for McBath, and $1 million each for Crockett and Brown.

Running in Oregon’s new 6th ongressional District, Flynn seems to have rarely, if ever, spoken publicly on cryptocurrencies, nor does his campaign website suggest it would be open to accepting donations in digital assets. In contrast, Cody Reynolds, another Democratic candidate running for the Oregon seat, listed “threatening laws and legislation” on cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin (BTC), Web3 and blockchain as one of his key campaign issues, but the page seems to be unavailable or has been removed at the time of publication.

Nina Turner, who is running against Brown in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, has tweeted she was opposed to members of Congress being allowed to trade stocks, a stance that could also extend to holding digital assets. Many on social media have criticized Brown’s campaign as potentially favoring policies supported by Bankman-Fried and crypto-focused PACs rather than those of constituents.

Related: Crypto industry seeks to educate, influence US lawmakers as it faces increasing regulation

Lobbying and campaigns with a focus on the crypto and blockchain industry could become more politically advantageous in the United States with the technology both at the center of attention with sanctions against Russia and President Joe Biden’s March executive order establishing a national policy framework on digital assets. In February, Coinbase filed for a PAC aimed at supporting “crypto-forward lawmakers,” but has reported no expenditures with the Federal Election Commission as of the time of publication.

Ariana Grande’s fundraiser for trans visibility adds crypto option

Pledge has also introduced a mechanism allowing each crypto transaction to contribute to verified carbon offset initiatives via the United Nations Climate Neutral Now Initiative.

Fundraising platform Pledge has launched PledgeCrypto to allow nonprofits to accept crypto donations in more than 130 cryptocurrencies — including Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and Tether (USDT) — and then turn them into fiat money.

Famous music artist Ariana Grande, a prominent advocate for transgender rights and the founder of her own charity — Protect and Defend Trans Youth Fund — is working with Pledge to raise money for LGBTQ organizations that advocate for and provide direct services to transgender youth. She has offered to match up to $1.5 million in donations.

The announcement says PledgeCrypto is a free, fully integrated fiat and cryptocurrency donation platform where donations are delivered to verified nonprofit organizations. It does not require technical knowledge, crypto wallet expertise or Know Your Customer documentation.

Pledge CEO James Citron said that about 300 million people worldwide presently own cryptocurrency and intend to fund causes they care about. Apart from Ariana Grande’s campaign, additional charity partners for Pledge Crypto include The Boys and Girls Club of Metro Los Angeles, Big Brothers and Big Sisters LA, Streetcode Academy, Worthy of Love, Safe Place for Youth, CoachArt, Goodie Nation and Taraji P. Henson’s Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation.

Pledge has also introduced a mechanism that allows each crypto transaction to contribute to verified carbon offset initiatives via the United Nations Climate Neutral Now Initiative to offset the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining and transactions.

2021 will be primarily remembered as the year of new all-time highs for digital assets, but it was also the most successful year yet for crypto philanthropy. As reported by Cointelegraph in early February, crypto contributions totaled $69.6 million in 2021 as opposed to $4.2 million in 2020. In the same period, crypto donation volume rose by 1,558%, or nearly 16x.

Related: Tracked crypto donations to Ukraine surge to $108M as Kraken, Bored Ape joins in

In March, government officials in Ukraine teamed up with cryptocurrency exchanges FTX and Kuna and staking provider Everstake to create a donation platform for individuals wanting to donate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to aid in the war against Russia.

Vitalik Buterin quietly donates $5M ETH to aid Ukraine as total tracked crypto donations reach $133M

No official public announcement was made regarding the large sum donation.

As told by Aid for Ukraine, a joint initiative created by the Ukrainian government, FTX, Everstake and Kuna to rally crypto donations for the country, Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin made $5 million worth of ETH donations to Ukraine in early April. According to the entity, despite the large donation sum, Buterin did not make an announcement regarding the transaction. It was eventually linked to him via the Ethereum Name Service domain name “vitalik.eth,” which served as the origin of the transfer.

Half of the $5 million in donations went directly to Aid for Ukraine, while the other half went to Unchain Fund, a cryptocurrency charity initiative created by activists in the blockchain community to provide humanitarian relief for Ukrainians. Alex Bornyakov, deputy minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, publicly thanked Buterin’s contribution in a tweet, writing: 

“I couldn’t be more grateful for every crypto donation to our lifesaving initiative, Aid for Ukraine. It really helps to strengthen our country and protect its democratic values. Special thanks to Vitalik Buterin for standing with Ukraine.”

Based on data gathered by Cointelegraph, the amount of tracked crypto donations sent to the Ukrainian government, military and charities has surpassed $133 million. Unchain Fund has raised more than $10 million alone, with most of its contributions stemming from NEAR tokens and ETH. But overall, it appears the pace of donations has slowed down.

From Feb. 28 to March 9 alone, total tracked crypto donations to Ukraine skyrocketed from $37 million to $108 million. Some have pointed to a decline in enthusiasm for such initiatives, especially after the Ukrainian government made a U-turn on an anticipated airdrop.

UN agency accepts first stablecoin donations worth $2.5M to help Ukrainian refugees

Crypto donations have proven vital for Ukraine and its people, as the country has received over $100 million in crypto donations since the conflict broke out.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a UN agency for refugees, has accepted its first-ever crypto donations toward humanitarians aid for Ukrainians fleeing the war-torn nation.

UNHCR accepted $2.5 million in Binance USD (BUSD) stablecoin donations from Binance Charity that would be utilized to rehabilitate and support refugees fleeing to neighboring countries from Ukraine.

According to a report from the USA for UNHCR, more than 10 million people have been displaced from their homes in Ukraine, and the agency will use crypto stablecoin charity funds to provide legal and social assistance.

Marie Grey, executive director and CEO of USA for UNHCR, said that the crypto donation will prove vital in its efforts to help as many families as possible. Grey also lauded the global crypto community for helping Ukrainians at this time of crisis and said:

“This generous support will make a life-changing difference for families forced to flee, and more importantly, it shows families that a caring and committed global community is stepping forward to help during their darkest times.”

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis in the region. Cryptocurrencies have proven to be one of the biggest mediums of aid for the troubled nation as it has received over $100 million in tracked crypto donations since the war began.

Related: Amid conflict, NFT projects already seek to rebuild Ukraine

When Ukraine was pleading with other countries for assistance and had raised several calls for aid in any form, crypto donors from around the world came together to donate millions. These crypto funds have already proven vital for the country to support various evacuations and rehabilitation efforts to help and save as many lives as possible.

Ukraine has not just embraced crypto for donations; the country legalized digital assets and even launched its own nonfungible token collection to raise more funds.

Crypto donation startup launches IRS form as US tax season looms

Nonprofits are required to file IRS Form 8282 for crypto donations of $500 or more if donated funds are exchanged for the U.S. dollar.

Engiven, an enterprise cryptocurrency donation platform, is working to simplify tax reporting for cryptocurrency donors and nonprofits by launching a tax form and appraisal service for crypto donations.

The Engiven platform now allows nonprofits and donors to automatically generate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form, the firm announced Tuesday.

According to Engiven, nonprofits have to file IRS Form 8282 for crypto donations of $500 or more if donated funds are exchanged for the U.S. dollar, while donors must file Form 8283 with their tax return for donations of $500 and more. The Engiven platform automatically enters the donation data into the IRS tax forms and sends the completed form to the nonprofit to sign and file.

Additionally, Engiven will provide a free appraisal to all cryptocurrency donors who give $5,000 or more worth of crypto using its platform.

In order to donate crypto worth $5,000 or more, donors are required to have the donated funds appraised by a qualified expert. According to Tony Oommen, vice president of the public charity Fidelity Charitable, the price of a qualified crypto appraisal may range anywhere from $100 to $600 for a $5,000 donation.

Engiven CEO James Lawrence noted that the new tax features and services on Engiven ultimately aim to help donors and charities focus on their mission by automating the tax form creation process.

“With tax season upon us, we want to ensure that donors and nonprofits on the Engiven platform have the required, pre-filled, tax forms needed to comply with IRS regulations for cryptocurrency donations,” Lawrence said.

Founded in 2018, Engiven is one of the largest crypto donation platforms in the United States, facilitating crypto donations for more than 400 religious groups and non-profit organizations, including the Salvation Army charity. In February, Engiven partnered with the U.S. Figure Skating, the national governing body for the sport of figure skating, to help it enable donations in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).

Related: Payment services provider Shift4 acquires The Giving Block for $54 million

The newly launched crypto tax-focused tools by Engiven come amid the looming tax deadline as U.S. residents are required to file taxes by April 18. According to major crypto tax compliance firm TaxBit, crypto users might be spending “thousands of dollars per year” to generate crypto tax forms without the help of specialized automated tax reporting services.

Ukrainian government launches crypto donation website with FTX, Kuna and Everstake

Users have sent more than $48 million USD in crypto to government wallet addresses, roughly 24% of the platform’s $200 million goal.

Crypto exchanges FTX and Kuna and staking platform Everstake have partnered with Ukrainian government officials to launch a donation website for users wishing to send crypto to help the country and its people.

In a Monday announcement, Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation said the government had launched Aid for Ukraine, a platform that accepts donations in Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), Polkadot (DOT), Solana (SOL), Dogecoin (DOGE), Monero (XMR), Icon (ICX), and Neo (NEO) “to support people in their fight for freedom.” Many parts of the country have been under attack by Russia’s military since Feb. 24.

According to the website, users have sent more than $48 million in crypto at the time of publication, roughly 24% of the platform’s $200 million goal. The funds will be sent to the National Bank of Ukraine and used for “ammunition and necessities” to support the country’s armed forces and humanitarian aid programs. Fiat donations to Ukraine’s central bank in various currencies are also accepted.

“Aid For Ukraine shows how the global crypto community and the traditional financial system can work together,” said Solana Labs co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko. “Crypto donations to the DAO are stored and governed on-chain, then transferred to FTX, a centralized exchange, to be sold for fiat USD sent via SWIFT to the Ukrainian government.”

The platform consolidated the list of wallet addresses previously provided by the Ukrainian government using its Twitter account. However, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, some crypto firms have also announced they would be donating to Ukraine. Kraken pledged to distribute $1,000 to each user who created an account in the country before March 9, while the Bored Ape Yacht Club said it would match a $1 million donation in ETH.

Related: Ally or suspect? The war in Ukraine as a stress test for the crypto industry

Cointelegraph reported that as of March 9, various organizations and government-run wallets have received more than $108 million towards helping Ukraine. The funds intended for Ukrainians come amid Russia facing economic stress due to sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union. Many private businesses including major banking firm Goldman Sachs, Visa and Mastercard have all cut ties with the country in the last two weeks.

Cointelegraph reached out to FTX, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

Tracked crypto donations to Ukraine surge to $108M as Kraken, Bored Ape joins in

Two weeks into the Russo-Ukrainian War, donations continue to pour in from generous blockchain enthusiasts worldwide.

On Wednesday, total crypto donations across Ukrainian government wallet addresses, charities and relief efforts tracked by Cointelegraph has reached $108 million. The top three recipients of such funds are the official Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) wallet addresses of the Ukrainian government, and a BTC donations address for Come Back Alive

The same day, Kraken announced that it would distribute over $10 million to clients who created an account from Ukraine before Mar 9 for relief efforts. Regardless of their account balance, Ukrainian clients of Kraken will receive $1,000 in BTC each during the first tranche of fund disbursement, which ca be withdrawn immediately. The exchange also waived currency exchange fees for withdrawals of up to $1,000. Jesse Powell, Kraken’s CEO, gave the following remarks regarding the aid package: 

“Cryptocurrency remains an important humanitarian tool, especially at a time when many around the world can no longer rely on traditional banks and custodians.”

Funds will be distributed throughout the year, in part to give Ukrainian residents time to complete Kraken’s “intermediate” Know-Your-Customer verification process. Perhaps ironically, fees collected from Russia-based Kraken accounts will partly fund the aid package.

Bored Ape Yacht Club, or BAYC, also joined in on the crypto fundraising efforts for Ukraine on Wednesday. After collecting nearly $1 million in ETH from wallets containing a BAYC nonfungible token, the developers behind BAYC said it would match the contribution with a $1 million ETH donation of their own.

Other notable contributions include Binance’s Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund, which has received over $11.3 million in BTC, BNB and Binance USD since inception. In addition, during its last update on March 3, it appears Kuna’s Crypto Fund of Ukraine has received over $14 million in major altcoins such as Polkadot (DOT), Tether (USDT), Candle (CNDL), USD Coin (USDC) and Dai (DAI).