Colleges Still Getting to Grips with Bitcoin Donations

David Hundeyin

While universities are known for being hotbeds of innovation and research, many American colleges are still struggling to understand blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, and its potential to aid their fundraising efforts. As a result, they may be missing out on a huge opportunity.

In February 2014, cryptocurrency expert and University of Puget Sound alumnus Nicolas Cary decided to gift his alma mata $10,000 in Bitcoin. The donation took the university by surprise, as it simply did not know what to do with the donation. As a result, Cary had to step in and teach the university how to accept his gift.

Sherry Mondou, vice president for finance and administration at the university, said in a statement:

We were delighted when we heard Nic wanted to make this generous and pioneering gift to Puget Sound. At the same time, we were a little uncertain how to proceed, as we had no gift policy on digital currencies and were unfamiliar with the process. But we greatly welcomed Nic’s thoughtful initiative and felt it would serve us well to learn to engage with the e-commerce world.

According to Cary, he had always wanted to give back to the university and he used bitcoin because it was the main currency in his life and career.

Speaking to Bloomberg he said:

I had to do a little bit of convincing for them to accept it. They wanted to dig in about how it works and what the process would be. We had a lot of conversations.

While Puget Sound, a private, liberal arts college in Tacoma, was the first academic institution to find itself in such unfamiliar territory, the situation has not improved very much since then. Ivy League university, Harvard, boasting of a $39 billion endowment has yet to receive a cryptocurrency donation, while many other universities do not even have a protocol for accepting donations in crypto.

Baby Steps

Since becoming the first university to accept a gift in bitcoin, the University of Puget Sound has since then received several similar gifts. CryptoGlobe reported earlier that Yale has made an eye-catching cryptocurrency fund investment as part of plans to convert its investment portfolio into alternative investments by 2019. Despite this and the presence of a tested process for accepting cryptocurrency donations, Yale apparently is not yet pursuing the idea, according to spokesman Tom Conroy.

According to Bloomberg, the University of California, Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Cornell University are some institutions that have recently taken to accepting cryptocurrency donations.

Not to be left behind, The University of Cumbria, in Britain, and the University of Nicosia, in Cyprus, as far back as 2014 announced that they would accept cryptocurrency as tuition payment.

With a little bit of hope and perhaps some help, academic institutions could readily engage in cryptocurrency. It has been suggested that this could be especially useful for African and Asian students who want to study in western universities and would not have to deal with the trouble of sourcing for US Dollars to make that happen.