Madison nonprofits start accepting cryptocurrency



At The River Food Pantry, monetary donations often come in the form of cash, credit or check.

“We are entirely run on donations,” said director of development Julie Wiedmeyer. “I think what we’re trying to do is make it as easy as possible to donate to The River and give people as many choices and avenues to make those donations.”

Earlier this year, the Pantry’s online donation platform expanded to accept cryptocurrency.

“We just wanted to be on the cutting edge,” Julie Wiedmeyer explained. “We wanted to be one of the first charities in this field to accept it.”

Unlike a government-issued currency that uses dollars or coins, crypto is a fully digital asset. People can buy, sell or trade them like stocks or bonds. These transactions are supported by

To better understand how cryptocurrency works, Wiedmeyer bought a small amount of Bitcoin. She says it was the best way for her to understand the market and the exchange.

“It’s just another tool, like the stock market or other investments people make,” Wiedmeyer said. “There are risks with them and there are rewards.”

Like cash donations, cryptocurrency donations to tax-exempt nonprofits are not subject to capital gains tax. Additionally, crypto donations are tax deductible. An investor could deduct the “fair market value” of your cryptocurrency donation, based on how long you have held your cryptocurrency.

While there hasn’t been any major interest in cryptocurrency donations to The River yet, Wiedmeyer says it’s something other nonprofits should consider looking into.

“It’s very early in the game and it’s not something that needs to be rushed right now,” Wiedmeyer said. “Hopefully in the next few years we’ll see regular giveaways coming through cryptocurrency, so I think that’s something to start learning about.”


The Association for Fundraising Professionals Greater Madison Chapter is beginning to educate some of its members about digital currency donations.

Jen Davie, director of the AFP Greater Madison chapter, said many members fear accepting gifts like this.

“It’s just nerve-wracking to know that it’s not just dollars coming directly to us that we may have to do some sort of exchange to turn them into dollars that we can use for our missions,” Davie said. “A lot of our fundraisers and our teams don’t feel like experts to accept that.”

She says the biggest concern comes from a misunderstanding of digital currency due to how new it is to many people.

“I know it’s been around a little longer than we’d like to admit, but it’s becoming a form of currency that people use,” Davie said. “Especially for a younger generation, they really want to give their gifts to that title.”

Nonprofit fundraising teams never want to be able to turn down a donation, Wiedmeyer and Davie agree.

“When someone comes up and says, ‘I want to give you a present,’ our role as a fundraiser is to handle that and honor that choice that they’ve made,” Davie said. “Because truly any donation to a mission in our community helps uplift everyone.”

“We want to make sure we meet people where they are and stay up to date with new ways to donate,” added Wiedmeyer.

To help educate other fundraising teams, the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Madison Chapter is hosting a “Crypto for Good” webinar on July 19 from noon to 1 p.m. To register or learn more about the course, click HERE.


The cryptocurrency market has fallen drastically in recent months.

Brad Chandler, director of the Nicholas Center for Corporate Financing and Investment Banking, taught one of the first cryptocurrency courses at UW-Madison. He advises his students and anyone interested in learning more about crypto to understand market fluctuations.

“These currencies tend to be very volatile,” Chandler said. “Bitcoin can go from all-time highs to lows that can really go down.”

Despite the current market, Chandler believes that cryptocurrencies offer healthy economic competition against other currencies.

“While I’m cautious about Bitcoin and its ability to hold value in the future, I think it’s exciting that it’s created a lot of competition and that’s hopefully beneficial for the average consumer,” Chandler said.

Chandler says there are a lot of people studying the market and working to learn more about digital assets.

“We see big banks having cryptocurrency teams that research cryptocurrency and help their customers access it,” he added. “It’s small right now, but if it’s a sector that continues to have power, and if it gets bigger, you’ll see more of it in the future.”

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