Misleading & fraudulent charitable crypto projects

It has become common for crypto projects to include charitable elements, where some amount of their fees are given to charity. GiveDirectly has received millions in funds from such projects and appreciates the crypto community’s help in sending money directly to people in poverty.

Unfortunately, we have learned of some charitable NFT and crypto-based projects which are at best misleading and at worst could be scams. We hope the tips below will help you navigate the inherent risks.

Before donating through a charitable crypto project here are some steps to take:

1. Know who is operating the crypto project and look into their reputation. In almost every case, the project owners have the ability to keep the funds for themselves or could lose the funds to hackers. Ultimately, you have to trust them to be accountable for your  donation. 

  • For example, we’ve been approached by projects falsely claiming that their smart contract proves they will send money directly to GiveDirectly. However, a security audit revealed that the authors could rewrite the behavior of the smart contract to send the money to whomever they wish.

2. Ask for specifics from the organizers. What percentage of the funds go to which charities? Do these percentages vary over time? When will the funds be released?

  • For example, a project might advertise past charitable contributions without clarifying that they don’t intend to continue donating proceeds in the future.

3. Contact us at info@givedirectly.org to ask if we are aware of the project before donating. We can’t endorse that any particular project is safe, but we can let you know if they have a history of working with us.

The lowest risk and lowest fee way to give crypto to GiveDirectly is to send funds directly to our addresses listed here or through our Give Now page.