At ETH Barcelona on July 6-8, there was the usual mix of geeks, coders, hardcore ethereans, and project founders. With market conditions having flushed out the moonboys and influencers, however, there was a distinct absence of shillers. Its slogan “What happens in Barcelona stays on the blockchain” captured the nerdiness of the event, whose focus was very much on building.
In place of the frothiness that characterizes many crypto conferences, there was an egalitarian ethos: an exploration of how blockchain “can help build a sustainable world full of human potential.” How exactly does this amorphous vision manifest in practice? And can a technology invented to solve the double spend problem really improve the everyday lives of planetary citizens?
Answering those questions calls for taking a closer look at the crypto projects represented at the conference that fall into the ESG bracket: Environmental, Social, and Governance. While mixing and mingling at ETH Barcelona, I met representatives from a number of these projects. Here’s what I learned.
The Giving Block
One of the projects I had the pleasure of meeting at ETH Barcelona was The Giving Block (TGB). These guys are convinced that crypto can change the world for the better. TGB makes it easy for organizations to accept crypto donations and for individuals to donate with crypto. It’s particularly passionate about NFT fundraising and has authored an entire report on the topic.
I was particularly impressed with the fact that The Giving Block seems intent on putting its money where its mouth is: CEO Jared Isaacman of parent company Shift4 is matching donations up to $10M for its Caring With Crypto campaign. Thanks to the efforts of projects such as The Giving Block, NFT philanthropy is really taking off, funneling more funds to social causes and onboarding more people and organizations to crypto.
The Future of Giving
Many of the socially conscious startups to have emerged from the crypto sector lately have been NFT-focused. There are obvious reasons for this synergy: NFTs are highly visual, and thus an effective medium for conveying environmental messages. This mechanism also suits collaborations with artists and creators who share similar values. DoinGud, one of ETH Barcelona’s launch partners, has done more than perhaps any other NFT project to realize this goal.
As the project’s manifesto explains, “We believe that art has always been an incredible tool for influencing change and by using blockchain technology to create transparency, we can make an even stronger impact in the world.” DoinGud is intent on spurring positive social impact, which it achieves through its NFT platform where social causes can register as eligible organizations to whom creators can donate a portion of their proceeds. DoinGud has partnered with over 200 social causes, each of which aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
In the run-up to ETH Barcelona, DoinGud ran an NFT scavenger hunt that gave participants the opportunity to “collect NFTs to create a better world.” The project is doing more than merely paying lip service to social causes: it’s actively onboarding new users to crypto while showcasing the transformative power of NFTs.
Another socially conscious project represented at ETH Barcelona was Giveth. The event sponsor aims to “decentralize charity” by rewarding donors who contribute to “for-good” projects. The platform enables cryptocurrency holders to donate to a slew of charitable projects including ones focused around Ukraine, sustainable food, and grassroots community support. Giveth essentially runs a charitable Kickstarter, allowing anyone to create a project and start raising funds. Verified projects reward donors with “GIVbacks.”
Like DoinGud, Giveth is doing more to onboard everyday users to crypto than the majority of conventional projects, while showcasing the industry as a force for global good. As its mission statement explains, Giveth is “building a culture of giving that empowers and rewards those who give – to projects, to society, and to the world. We aim to inspire our community to participate in an ecosystem of collective support, abundance and value-creation.”
The Next Wave of Socially Conscious Projects
Signifty is a new NFT project taking up the socially conscious baton and running with it. What’s interesting about its approach is the way it engages celebrities and harnesses their stardust to achieve outcomes. The idea is simple: celebs and influencers create NFTs that anyone can purchase, with proceeds going to causes of the creator’s choosing. Each of the stars represented on Signifty’s platform chooses a “mission” i.e. a charitable cause or fundraiser.
One of the cool things about the concept is the way Signifty gamifies the whole process: the celeb creating the NFT collection is the mission “Hero” while buyers are awarded legendary NFTs for helping to complete Global Missions in conjunction with the Hero. An NFT drop that sells out, for instance, will culminate in mission completion. It’s a neat way of mapping donations to outcomes, and showing that funds raised are going directly to the corresponding cause.
If the caliber of projects represented at ETH Barcelona is anything to go on, the future of crypto giving is in good hands. Platforms such as Giveth, The Giving Block, and Signifty are demonstrating that it’s possible to create a positive social impact while still having fun. In doing so, they’re extending crypto’s utility and showcasing it as a force for good.