Transparency Tech Seeks to Solve Non-Profit Accountability

Leaders in Bitcoin and Blockchain Technology are Building a Platform for Donors to see Exactly Where their Funds Go

Transparency Tech

San Francisco, September 1, 2015
The Plug and Play Accelerator, Factom and BitPesa have partnered with nonprofits, the BitGive Foundation and The Water Project. As a pilot project, they are using Factom tech and the blockchain to create radical transparency in how donor funds are being used in Africa to provide safe water. By tracking donations through the blockchain and Factom, they aim to introduce a new level of transparency that will bring real-time assurances that money donated to accomplish a particular mission are doing just that.

Misuse of funds is rare in the nonprofit sector, but the headlines of fraud are bold and undermine the good work that so many others carry out each day. These stories are unfortunate reminders that transparency is crucial and that today’s auditing mechanisms are too slow to keep up. The ability to follow your donation and see where it goes and how it supports positive and impactful work around the world is a huge opportunity. Connecting donors to the direct outcome of their generosity while providing transparency is a giant leap ahead in the nonprofit world and offers tremendous opportunity for disaster relief efforts as well as programs delivering support on a regular basis.

The collaboration between the Plug and Play Tech Center, BitGive Foundation, BitPesa, The Water Project, and the Factom Foundation will build a pilot project to monitor funds used to maintain water projects built in western Kenya through The Water Project. They are hoping with this collaboration that they can create a new donor experience and standard in giving and perhaps strengthen donor trust.

“We are tackling a difficult problem with a lot of moving parts. It was possible in the past to sort out the flow of money, but the reality was that you could not trust the data. It is only now possible through the blockchain to record and timestamp that data without the possibility of going back later and changing it without anyone knowing. We can’t stop individuals from misusing funds, but now we can easily tell who did and when. We are bringing some clarity and honesty to where funds go. We hope to apply this new technology to more complex cash management and identity problems that we face.” Peter Kirby, President of the Factom Foundation.   

The pilot software will work by integrating Factom’s blockchain backend into the multiple parties’ existing systems. Starting from the beginning, when BitGive and The Water Project collect donor funds, they will record and track them through Factom. Factom will build a Factom data chain that links those particular funds to their designated project.

The Plug and Play Tech Center, an established accelerator in Silicon Valley, is part of the team and supporting the effort. “On behalf of Plug and Play, we are very excited to see how technology will impact the elements of transparency that can apply beyond the domains of NGOs and nonprofits.  BitGive, Factom, BitPesa and The Water Project aim to ensure integrity in the donation process, and we are incredibly humbled to have the opportunity to help,” said Scott Robinson, Founder & Director of Plug and Play Fintech.

In this case, funds will be raised for the maintenance of water projects built by The Water Project in western Kenya. When BitGive and The Water Project transfer funds via BitPesa to help maintain the water projects, Factom will log those transactions and link them to their appropriate Factom chain. Each step is linked, and Factom creates an unbreakable record of it. Their system allows anyone to unequivocally track the flow of transactions from the beginning to the end. In the case of the water projects in Kenya, they will be tracking several currency conversions across several continents.

“The blockchain and Bitcoin present an incredible opportunity to dramatically lower our costs to transmit money to countries like Kenya,” says The Water Project’s President Peter Chasse. “At the same time, it can also enable a shift to real-time, end-to-end transparency into how nonprofits like ours put donations to good use.”

“We have a strong partnership with The Water Project and fully trust the integrity of their work. That is why they are the perfect partner to build the first iteration of this model. We both understand there are questions about what happens to the funds once they leave the donor’s hands. It is easy to see the flow with Bitcoin, and working together with our other partners in this collaboration will allow us to provide a better understanding of how our donors’ money is being spent.” Connie Gallippi, Founder and Executive Director of BitGive.

BitPesa is covering the “last mile” in the donation flow. They handle the transfer of funds from the US to Africa. They do this seamlessly. BitPesa converts bitcoin to local currency that is then disbursed via mobile money or direct to a local bank account. Mobile Money is widely used in Kenya and works even on feature phones. BitPesa settles customer transactions in real-time for one-third the cost of other payment methods.

“BitPesa is always happy to work with companies, nonprofits and individuals dedicated to efficient and transparent operations. The cost of fraud and inefficient spending of funds is real, so direct payment and transfer methods that track spending and use from end-to-end are a great solution. We are excited to work with the nonprofits in this project and continue to show the ease and efficiency of digital currency transfers to emerging markets.” Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO and Co-Founder of BitPesa.


About Factom
Factom is the first technology that will allow every corporation and government to piggyback off of the security of the blockchain. Identity, sensitive corporate records, and titles have already been Factomized. With a single anchor into the bitcoin blockchain, millions of records become secure in real-time. Once Factomized, information becomes impossible to modify, delete, or backdate. It is unhackable and unbreakable. http://factom.org/

About BitGive
The BitGive Foundation is the first 501©(3) Bitcoin nonprofit charitable foundation representing the Bitcoin community. BitGive focuses on charitable giving and demonstrating Bitcoin’s social impact on a global scale through supporting charitable organizations with fundraising campaigns, education, partnerships, and projects that leverage Bitcoin and blockchain technology. Several of its charity partners include Save The Children, The Water Project, Medic Mobile, TECHO, and more. http://bitgivefoundation.org/

About Plug and Play Tech Center
Plug and Play Tech Center is the world’s largest global technology accelerator and venture fund. Since inception in 2006, their program has expanded worldwide to include entrepreneurs from 24 countries, providing necessary resources to succeed in Silicon Valley. With over 350 startups and 300 corporate partners, they have created the ultimate startup ecosystem. Plug and Play provides active investments with 180 leading Silicon Valley VCs and more than 365 networking events per year. Companies in our community have raised over $3.5 billion in funding, with successful portfolio exits including Danger, Dropbox, Lending Club, PayPal, SoundHound, and Zoosk. http://plugandplaytechcenter.c...

About The Water Project
The Water Project, Inc. is a 501©(3) non-profit organization unlocking human potential by providing sustainable water projects to communities in sub-Saharan Africa who suffer needlessly from a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation. For over seven years, they have been helping communities gain access to clean, safe water by providing training, expertise and financial support for water project construction through staff and implementing partners. http://thewaterproject.org/

About BitPesa
BitPesa allows individuals and businesses to send money to and from Kenya and Tanzania. BitPesa accepts Bitcoin from nearly anywhere in the world and exchanges it for Kenyan and Tanzanian Shillings. Customers receive Kenyan/Tanzanian Shillings into a Kenyan or Tanzanian mobile money wallet (M-Pesa, Tigo, Orange, Airtel, or Yu). BitPesa also sells Bitcoin in Kenya. https://www.bitpesa.co

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