One of the exciting developments in the world of digital art NFTs is an explosion of collectable projects focused heavily on raising funds for a range of charities and positive causes. Far from offering a small one-off donation, many of the projects are extremely generous, offering large shares of their sales and royalty prices to chosen charities, or allowing the community around an NFT art collection to choose which charities funds can be donated to.
Many of these auctions, often those created by celebrities of one kind or another, follow a traditional method. A special item is put up for auction as an NFT, and the proceeds from the auction are donated to the cause of choice. Two high profile examples are NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who created an original artwork which sold for $5.5 million for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, whilst Twitter founder Jack Dorsey sold his first Tweet for $2.9 million, which was donated to GiveDirectly Africa who work to alleviate poverty.
Unsurprisingly a number of charities have also created their own NFTs to raise funds, and as most of these charities don’t generate art, their NFTs have taken on some interesting forms. Ocean conservation group Beneath the Waves auctions NFTs connected to shark tags, which track individual sharks for scientific research, and rewilding organisation Rewilder.xyz offers NFTs tied to micro-plots of land, enabling them to be reforested. Both of these have created a new income stream, though it is really just a modernisation of existing donation programs.
The NFT art projects designed to support charity long term
NFTs are often best left to those with experience of, and a passion for, NFTs. Some of the most exciting and interesting approaches have been the start-up of entire projects, collections, art shops, and metaverses with charitable giving built into their architecture. NFTs can go far beyond connecting a digital file to the blockchain for sale, they can also tie a range of other features into the package. Most NFTs include an automatic royalty system which ensures future sales of a piece always return a royalty to the original artist, and it’s easy to incorporate mechanisms such as automated donations.
Generative digital art collections are an increasingly popular variation, where a buyer pays for an artwork to be randomly generated and minted as an NFT. The Artblocks platform has done a great deal to promote this approach, also encouraging artists using the platform have chosen to build in charity donations. One artist, who has chosen to remain anonymous, promised a 25% donation from his collection which raised over $3.5 million for Médecins Sans Frontières, and many other projects have promised percentages of minting fees and royalties, ensuring long term support for their charity of choice. In just one month at the end of 2021 the community raised over $23 million for charities.
Floki Inu began life as a cryptocurrency and has diversified into various associated areas, including an NFT art collection promising all proceeds to the Million Gardens Movement which creates community gardens, they sold out in 32 minutes raising $1.4 million. A similar community focused effort, the Bored Ape Yacht Club, sells NFTs which include a range of membership privileges. The community regularly choose to donate large sums to a range of animal related charities; almost $1 million to date including $600,000 for Orangutan Outreach.
NFTs are proving a unique tool to raise charitable funds
The list goes on; Cyber Kongz raised $560,000 for Virunga National Park, Blazed Cats raised $300,000 for Mental Health America, and Woodies NFT raised $225,000 for Trees for the Future, and there are many, many more. Whilst limited amounts are known about the make up of an often anonymous buyer market, NFTs are popular with the recently crypto-rich and they seem very happy to share their investment successes.
The market is also focusing it’s attentions on what it wants NFTs to be. There’s still something of a gold rush on of very similar projects, engineered to turn some quick money, but in the hands of talented creators who also have a sense of generosity, a well planned collection or one-off art sale can bring in huge sums of money and an ongoing source of funds, which is often the most important thing for charities.