Connie Gallippi - CEO, BitGive

Connie GallippiConnie Gallippi, CEO BitGive, on bitcoin charity and changing lives.


Interview with Connie Gallippi on bitcoin charity

Trace Mayer:  Welcome back.  We have a very giving interview today.  Connie Gallippi, CEO of BitGive.  Welcome to the podcast.

Connie Gallippi:  Thank you.

Trace Mayer:  So, can you give us a little bit of a description about BitGive (bitcoin charity)?

Connie Gallippi:  Sure.  So BitGive (bitcoin charity) is a non-profit foundation, a philanthropic organization for the Bitcoin community.  It's bitcoin based (bitcoin charity).  And it's a 501C3 tax exempt organization in the US.  And essentially what we are is the charitable philanthropic platform for the community to give back, built on bitcoin.

So, right now what we're doing is working with NGOs and running campaigns and bringing them into the Bitcoin community and really ushering them into the whole space.  And the long term goal is an endowment that's based on bitcoin that we can support charities similar to like a traditional foundation.

Trace Mayer:  So, 501C3 that means donors gets charitable contributions, right.  And how that works if there's a capital gain you get to deduct the fair market value of the item, but you don't have to pay the capital gains tax, right?

Connie Gallippi:  Right.  From understanding you correctly yes too.  You calculate the gains as a capital gain from when you originally obtain the coin to when you may have to sell it or spend it.  That gain at the end of the tax year is something that you have to pay taxes on.

Trace Mayer:  If there's a recognition.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.  You have to be honest.  Is that what you mean?

Trace Mayer:  No, under tax law there's unrealized capital gains and there’s realized capital gain.

Connie Gallippi:  Right, yes.

Trace Mayer:  So, if you have an unrealized capital gain you don't have any tax liability due.  But if you have a realized capital gain then you have tax liability due.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.

Trace Mayer:  But you can have charitable deductions.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.  Then offset that.   Trace Mayer:  And this is a way to offset some of the, you know, take a deduction for charitable contribution.

Connie Gallippi:  Absolutely.

Trace Mayer:  So, what I'm getting at is like let's say you bought your bitcoins at a dollar and then they rose and their fair market value is five hundred dollars and you contribute them to BitGive (bitcoin charity).  Then that five hundred dollar unrealized capital gain neither BitGive (bitcoin charity) nor you have to pay tax on that.

Connie Gallippi:  Correct.

Trace Mayer:  And that's part of the tax law to encourage charitable giving.

Connie Gallippi:  Right, exactly.

Trace Mayer:  Churches take advantage of this.  The American Red Cross like that's why people get the 501C3 status.

Connie Gallippi:  Exactly.

Trace Mayer:  With the IRS.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes.

Trace Mayer:  Because it's a way for the tax code to encourage charitable giving so --.

Connie Gallippi:  Which benefits both parties.

Trace Mayer:  And BitGive has this IRS status.  Which is pretty exciting because then you can begin to use BitGive (bitcoin charity) to make charitable contributions and have that go into your overall tax plan.

Connie Gallippi:  Absolutely, yes.  And what's really great is you’re touched on this.  But on the BitGive (bitcoin charity) side we don't have to pay taxes on it either.  And so we have all that much more to do with the good work with and to grow our endowment as it continues to rise when it comes in our possession, right.   Trace Mayer:  Yeah.  I have friends and they're like oh, you know, help me get some bitcoins.  We'll set aside time next week and I'm like, no, just like download Breadwallet and they downloaded and I sent them $5 worth of bitcoins as a gift.  And I want them to not only receive bitcoin (bitcoin charity).  I want them to have the experience of sending some bitcoin.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.

Trace Mayer:  So, like we actually brought up the Kenyan water project.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes.

Trace Mayer:  And I was like okay I sent you the bitcoin.  So you need to send the Kenyan water projects some bitcoins so that you can experience sending bitcoins.  And so they Scan the QR code and send it.  And bam, their first experience with bitcoin is making a charitable donation that's actually going to build a well in Kenya that helps people get clean drinking water.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah.  So it's awesome.

Trace Mayer:  And the speed at which that transaction can happen someone going from having read about bitcoin, being curious about it to having actually sent money to make a difference in the life of this people in this village in Kenya is, you know, 3 to 4 minutes.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes.

Trace Mayer:  I think this is really exciting.  What other types of projects do we have going on over there at BitGive?  And what types of projects do you want to move into?

Connie Gallippi:  Yes, that's a great question.  And I agree that's one of the things I often say is that it’s the best case use of bitcoin (bitcoin charity) to a newbie, right.  Bringing it to mainstream and bridging to your friend or your family member, how to make it relevant because you can also chose something that they're interested in.  So, it's relevant to them instead of it just being some crazy technology or saying let's support something you're interested in with this crazy technology, right.  So, it's a really great way I think to bridge to mainstream.

But to answer your question about the other project, so we did finish the water project campaign and we raised over $11,000 for them for the well.  It's under construction now which is really exciting.  And now we just launched our next campaign which is with Medic Mobile.  And they are new up and coming NGO.  They're based out of San Francisco and they're very tech focused.  And what they're doing is supporting health workers in the developing world.  They're in 21 different countries and they have over 8,000 health workers.  And the health worker is a volunteer in their community that's responsible for usually about 50 different people's health care.

The traditional way of approaching that has been that they visit each person, they collect any health information issues that they need addressed.  They accumulate all the information and they walk however many miles and however many days it takes them to get to the closest doctor.  They get all of the health instructions from that doctor for all 50 of these people.  And then they walk however many miles and however many days back to deliver this information.  And you can imagine what might happen in that timeframe.

Trace Mayer:  It gets rained on.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah.

Trace Mayer:  It’s eaten by a Hyena, I mean.

Connie Gallippi:  Exactly.

Trace Mayer:  All types of stuff.

Connie Gallippi:  Exactly.  And, you know, these poor people who are sick and waiting for these care.  Maybe not even alive anymore when this guy gets back or he may not make it back, right.  I mean, so many things can happen.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah, it’s very dangerous over in Africa.  I have some family friends.  They actually got attacked.  I think they were in Nairobi or somewhere, but yeah, I mean, got hijacked basically the vehicle they were on.  So, I mean, you just don't know what's going on.

Connie Gallippi:  You never know.

Trace Mayer:  They were over their charitable mission actually.  So, you just never know what's going to happen in some of these places.

Connie Gallippi:  We can't even comprehend when, you know, in the US we have everything at our fingertips and, you know.  But what Medic Mobile does to help with this is they provide the health care workers with cell phones.  So, they can keep all the information and collect the data somewhere that they know could be stored properly and also analyzed over time for improvements.  But they can also not have to walk days and hours, miles to collect information from a doctor.  So they have a much more immediate feedback loop with the doctors.  And of course the health care is improving.

People's lives are being saved.  And because of the data collection they are able to improve upon things and see where there's issues and start working on different things.  So, it's pretty amazing organization.  So, that's our current campaign.  We also launched one here today as a Latin American Bitcoin Conference just for the conference here, but it's for Techo, which is a Latin American organization that works to build homes for people who don't have homes or they may be, you know, oftentimes living in dirt, which is --.

Trace Mayer:  In a -- living in the favela.

Connie Gallippi:  In the favelas.

Trace Mayer:  Shanty town.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes.  They don't have a roof over their head.  They're living in dirt.  There’s mud when it rains.  I mean, it's a really horrible conditions.  And these homes are prefab or you know, come in pieces essentially and volunteers help and actually build the homes with the family who will live in it.  So, it’s a very powerful experience for everybody involved.

And of course, there's the outcome of a home for these family to live in.  So, that's another one that we have going right now.  And we're looking at a few others.  We're talking to some really large organizations that we’re trying to and part of what I do is a lot of outreach and education to NGOs about bitcoin (bitcoin charity).  And we're trying to bring them into the community as you can imagine it such a process and take some time sometimes.

Trace Mayer:  Hey, free money.

Connie Gallippi:  You know.

Trace Mayer:  You should be willing to take it from anywhere it comes.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah.  You would think it would be that easy but.  So, we’re working on a few of those.  And of course I have a lot of nonprofits coming to me all the time to -- looking for support financially or how do we get into bitcoin or questions about bitcoin (bitcoin charity) and I do the best I can to service a lot of the NGOs but it's very challenging because it's just me.  So, oftentimes I’m not able to do what I would like to and then we don't have a lot of resources that can easily be distributed to support them in a more like efficient way until we can develop those resources so.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah.  Getting kind of information technology solutions built out, you know, we've got all these places throughout the world -- Africa South, America, India, Bangladesh, Philippines.  Like the massive typhoon hits the Philippines every other week right.  You know, we can really do a lot to help people on the ground.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes.

Trace Mayer:  With bitcoin (bitcoin charity).  I mean, because it transfers instantaneously.  It's like -- it's literally like cash.  I mean, when you have any of the credit card networks go down from one of these natural disasters.  If you're totally reliant on that type of system then it can pose a big threat and problem.  You might want to give money but you can't actually get it there.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.

Trace Mayer:  You know, which is a big problem.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes, absolutely.

Trace Mayer:  My friend Eli, when the hurricane happened in Haiti, he actually chartered a private jet and put a bunch of doctors and nurses on it and they flew to Haiti.

Connie Gallippi:  Wow.

Trace Mayer:  Like he paid for it all himself out of pocket.

Connie Gallippi:  That’s awesome.

Trace Mayer:  And he put a status update on his Facebook.  And, you know, I always kind of think of it.  It's always kind of chilling.  He’s like working triage in Haiti, deciding who lives and who dies.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah.

Trace Mayer:  Because they're just aren't enough people to help everybody in need, you know, like this person's got a broken leg, this person's internally bleeding and this person's doing that.  And you have to choose which one you're going to help.  In a lot of cases, if you don't have the resources get there in time.

Connie Gallippi:  Yep.

Trace Mayer:  Those minutes, those hours can make all the difference in a lot of cases.  And bitcoin can really be that glue that helps people help faster.  Help when the help is actually needed.

Connie Gallippi:  Absolutely.

Trace Mayer:  And not just wait until everything kind of has cleared up.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.  Yeah, absolutely.  And that's where I'm aiming with this too.  More of a long term I'm learning.  Because that's sort of the vision that I see with, you know, leveraging the technology, right.  But the infrastructure isn't in place.  So, we've found that even though that's what we want to do.  And right now there's not really a way to get the money to them and know that it's going to a trusted source, right.

You could send it to an individual but you don't know who they are, what they're going to do with it and the infrastructure isn't in place.  For them the liquidity on the receiving side is not there.  So, that's where we would like to go with BitGive in the long term and really leverage the technology, but right now it's not really possible so.  But we're talking a lot with like 37coin.  And I'm really paying a lot of attention to like the SMS technology, the remittances all of that stuff because that's really where you can leverage the technology I think so.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah.  And especially technology that can function even in these disaster-type situations.

Connie Gallippi:  Right, exactly.

Trace Mayer:  You know, that's just critical to have things like that be able to still function.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes.

Trace Mayer:  It makes all the difference.  I mean, I have gone and helped clean up hurricanes and lots of other types of situations and it's so annoying because you know it needs to be done.  You know it can be done and yet you just can't get it done.

Connie Gallippi:  Just can get can’t get the resources there.  Yeah, I mean, as long as they have an internet connection which, you know, theoretically --

Trace Mayer:  Pretty soon it will be coming via blimps and balloons and things from like Facebook and Google and --

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah, I mean.

Connie Gallippi:  That's all you need.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah, and now you're able to communicate and be transferring value and like getting things done.  And, you know, really down the future we might even be having like drones that are able to fly and deliver bottles of water or all types of stuff like that or food, I mean, we just don't know it.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.

Trace Mayer:  You know, the relief pot could, you know, be some type of a pot on the back of a truck and shows up and opens up and all these drones fly out with water and like go find people to give them to.

Connie Gallippi:  Wow, yeah.

Trace Mayer:  Well, I mean.

Connie Gallippi:  That’s cool.

Trace Mayer:  Like bitcoin used to be science fiction.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah, like that.

Trace Mayer:  Like these types of things will be coming and --.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah.

Trace Mayer:  In fact, we might even be able to be using block chain technology where that's a business where people are paying insurance premiums and like then the drones will know who to deliver the water to.  I mean, there's all types of applications of this bitcoin and block chain technology that people just don't currently understand or even envision.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.

Trace Mayer:  And, you know, it'd be really cool if we had that type of infrastructure bill.  Because then people could just make a donation and bam, like you know that 10,000 water bottles are going to get distributed --.

Connie Gallippi:  Immediately.

Trace Mayer:  In this particular area.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah.  It's like an air drop almost.  It like --.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah.

Connie Gallippi:  It’s like done, yeah.  It would be really, really cool.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah.  It would be really nice.  So, what are you most optimistic about in the space, in the bitcoin industry, bitcoin space.  Particularly charitable (bitcoin charity) giving like what are you most optimistic about?

Connie Gallippi:  That’s a good question.  I don't think anyone asked me that before.  Other than completely agreeing with you in your previous statements, the whole concept of BitGive was built on the fact that I really see the technology being like the next dotcom, the next internet or bigger.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah.  I mean, how many live has been saved because of cell phones?

Connie Gallippi:  Right, exactly.

Trace Mayer:  I mean, it’s probably hundreds of millions of lives have been saved because of cell phones.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes.  And if we can actually capture just that one aspect of it with bitcoin all these feature phones that are all over the developing world if we can integrate bitcoin.  That's why I'm so interested in SMS technology.  There you go, I mean, and that's just one aspect of it, right.  I mean, I think that right now what we're focusing on is the charitable giving because it's something we can actually do now and we don't have to wait for everything to catch up to what, you know, that the longer term visions are.

But there's so much more that we can do once we’re able to, right.  So, it's simple right now.  It's about bringing NGOs into the space.  Explaining to them the benefits of bitcoin, getting them, you know, excited about it.  Raising funds for them and supporting their work.  But really in the long term it's about leveraging the technology, right.  And we just have to get everything in place to be able to do that.

So, that's what I'm most excited about and I'm trying to find ways to even bridge between the two where, for example, we're trying to work on a partnership with say at 37coin or maybe multiple organizations like that that are working in SMS technology and then helping to set up the rest of the ecosystem on the ground.  To partner with an NGO so that we obviously stay within our, you know, means of working with non-profits, but that serves as the intermediary, right.

So, since we can't right now get directly to the individuals because they're not aware of bitcoin or un-boarded or wanting to use bitcoin or any of those things aren't in place yet or the liquidity isn’t there.  We can work through a local NGO that we learn to know and trust to then reach the community.  And they're also then embedded in the community and they are influencers and leaders within the community instead of us coming in, you know, trying to explain this technology, you know, flying from the US with, you know, this crazy thing to talk to them about.  It’s probably you’re not going to be successful if you approach it that way.

So, trying to find ways to bridge between what we are able to do right now and we are doing these campaigns and such and this long term vision of almost like they give directly where they do provide that intermediary role and they have that sort of proof of poverty if you will or whatever you want to call it but they're the ones taking the responsibility of – these are the individuals that we know need assistance and we will provide the funding to them.  We know them and we trust them and we are helping them and I think, you know.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah.  There are two charities that kind of come to mind that I'm familiar with.  One of them helps provide loans to women in India.

Connie Gallippi:  Nice.

Bitcoin Charitable Initiative India and Africa

Trace Mayer:  And they found that in some of these villages where there are extremely high levels of spouse abuse and abuse of the females, a lot of it was driven by the economics.  And they found that as these loans were made to the women the women then had capital and were able to build businesses and started making money.  And then they had the retained earnings and then because they had been successful and paid back their loans they then became the people that decided who got the additional loans.

And so because the economics of these villages have been changed the entire culture of the village has now been changed.  And the incidence of like spouse abuse and domestic violence are down tremendously.  And so I think there's a lot to, you know, teaching a man to fish or women to fish as opposed to just giving them a fish.

Connie Gallippi:  Absolutely.

Trace Mayer:  Another charity that I'm involved with is called Educate.  And Educate is based out of Uganda.  And they teach entrepreneurship skills in the public school.  And over ten thousand students have gone through their program.  Average salaries before -- people who graduate but have not gone through the program as I think $47 a month and those who have gone through the program $77 a month.

Connie Gallippi:  Wow.

Trace Mayer:  So, they get taught these entrepreneurship skills through this charitable organization that then provides them a foundation on which to build a much higher earning income life with.  And my buddy Kevin, who's invested in both Armory and Kraken, he was telling me about this other charity in Africa where all it is is you just send and money, no strings attached, directly to individuals.  And they found that the villages where these direct peer to peer charitable donations are given are having the best economic success.  Largely because the people are able to be much more entrepreneurial and they have a little bit of capital to jumpstart their entrepreneurial activity.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.  Yes.

Trace Mayer:  And so I was thinking man wouldn't it be cool to mix something like that with educate where we've already like vetted the best of the students and then, you know, make these direct gifts to them so that they can really get their business or their deal off and running and started.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.

Trace Mayer:  So, I’ve talked with the CEO over there at Educate and we're actually in the process of identifying the top 5 to 10 entrepreneurs and then we're going to figure out how to fund them.  And it's going to be done through a bitcoin type method because we want these entrepreneurs to build out bitcoin technology and infrastructure in Uganda and in Africa.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.

Trace Mayer:  And so as --.

Connie Gallippi:  That’s awesome.

Trace Mayer:  You know, as we have the commercial projects going on where people are working for profit they help build out some of the infrastructure that can then be taken advantage of and used in the disaster or charitable type situations.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes.

Trace Mayer:  So that really all kind of works hand in glove.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes, absolutely.

Trace Mayer:  We really need both things happening at the same time.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes, absolutely.

Trace Mayer:  In the space.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah.  And I think you might have been referring to GiveDirectly.  Which is the --.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah.  I think it's GiveDirectly (another bitcoin charity).

Connie Gallippi:  The organization that the funding goes straight to the people.  But they provide that intermediary role where they're making sure that they identify those people, you know.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah.  And so it's not going to like the local Somali warlord or something like most foreign aid does.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.  Yeah.  And I know like when the Philippines relief effort -- we had a campaign for Save the Children.  There were other people who were raising funds and giving them to their friends in the Philippines to help on the ground.  But you can do that when it's your friend and you know and you trust and you're willing to put that out to your network and say, hey, Mike, I trust my friend.  I want you all to donate to this person, but that doesn't work on a larger scale where you have a non-profit that has to follow up, you know, a lot of things.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah, I mean, we got rules that we can't just be like blindly giving money out.  The IRS would be all over that.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.  Exactly.

Trace Mayer:  Yeah.  They kind of reminds me of the Bitcoin documentary with James D’Angelo, my buddy who’s got the World Bitcoin Network, a very popular YouTube channel and --.

Connie Gallippi:  Oh, yes.  I think I was just on that.

Trace Mayer:  Remember that that you got like you have the kid in Uganda who's like the brother of his --.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes, I saw that video.

Trace Mayer:  Like his friend and he sent him --

Connie Gallippi:  It was his sister-in-law.  Yeah, his sister-in-law's brother or something.

Trace Mayer:  Brother or something.  And he sent him $30 worth of bitcoin (bitcoin charity) and he said, you know what, change those into Ugandan shillings and I’ll send you more.

Connie Gallippi:  I’ll send you more, yeah.

Trace Mayer:  What a great way to mix the charity with building out the exchange market.

Connie Gallippi:  Exactly, yes.

Trace Mayer:  Right and building those connections and getting people to actually like learn how to use the technology, build a little bit of market, all that stuff.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah.

Trace Mayer:  And, yes.  So I, you know, I'm very excited about all this.  I think all that works very much hand in glove with each other and at the end of the day we're working on building the standard of living of humanity.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.

Trace Mayer:  And --.

Connie Gallippi:  That’s about sustainability like you’re saying earlier about --

Trace Mayer:  And sustainability.

Connie Gallippi:  -- you know, teaching a man to fish and, you know, not just giving them food but teaching them how to take care of themselves going forward and, yeah.

Trace Mayer:  That's where we get the real sustainability where we build the real human capital.  And we don't know, it might be some kid in Africa right now or in Bangladesh, who comes up with the next idea that saves your life.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah.

Trace Mayer:  I mean, we don't know.

Connie Gallippi:  Yeah, exactly.

Trace Mayer:  Like you know you might develop into some type of doctor that comes up with or, you know, new surgical technique or whatever I mean.

Connie Gallippi:  Absolutely.

Trace Mayer:  I mean, we just don't know.

Connie Gallippi:  Absolutely yeah.

Trace Mayer:  We don't know who it is.  We don't know if it's the person that's like 3 cars in front of us at the stoplight who’s going to come up with a lot of these innovations that help us so.

Connie Gallippi:  Right.

Trace Mayer:  All this is really good and helpful.  So as we close up the interview like, where can we find you?  Are there any particular things you'd like to mention?

Connie Gallippi:  Sure.  Well, I mean, I think where to find us is easy.  It‘s on -- we have a website  We're also on Twitter,, on Facebook.  We sort of dabble in the forums from now and there when we have some announcements to make.  Probably the closing thoughts I would want to share is, you know, circling back to probably one of the first things we talked about which is the tax deductible donations.  That’s something that’s really powerful, I think, we can offer in the bitcoin charity.

And we right now are doing a founding donors campaigns.  So, we’re really looking for donors to get that organization off the ground and it can be essentially recognized as such in perpetuity which we think is a really exciting opportunity.  Since, you know, as we all think, you know, bitcoins going to go to the moon, right.  So, being a founding donor of BitGive foundation (bitcoin charity) could be a very powerful thing so.

Trace Mayer:  Well, great.  Thanks for being on the podcast with us.  Connie Gallippi, CEO of BitGive.

Connie Gallippi:  Yes, thank you so much.

Written by Connie Gallippi on February 26, 2015.