Warning: The Cryptocoin Charity Craze is Hiding Something

Justin Hart
5 min readJun 1, 2021

In the 11th century Pope Urban II issued the earliest known “Indulgence” — a document certifying that a petitioner’s good actions in life would shorten the required penance beyond the grave for offenses they had committed. In short — you were paying the church for forgiveness of your sins. These penances allowed the Catholic church to increase its treasury and relieve its believers of much guilt. It became a pretty robust market and shakedown frankly.

1000 years later we find ourselves in a similar moral quandary: many upstart cryptocurrencies compensate for lack of any real world use case by giving to charity.

Copy of an indulgence issues by Pope Pius the XII

The hype-coin scene has given birth to a new slate of exciting “investment” vehicles. Some of these have distinct utility and other can be categorized as “meme coins” — coins which require a following to remain alive. This trend has also seen a host of tokens dedicate funds to charitable giving as a means to garner praise and support — but also, we assume, to truly give back.

ElonGate, Orfano, Happy, Save Planet Earth, Yummy, Word of Waves… the list goes on. Some coins choose charity as a side project others marry the coin directly to activist causes.

Don’t get me wrong, the strategy to give back can be a very positive thing. ElonGate — which launched off of a tweet from Elon Musk has since partnered with Elon’s brother Kimbal to support his philanthropic cause “Big Green” distributing gardening kits to families across the world.

However, as the adage goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

It’s revealing that some of the first bullet points out of the gate for these coins center around the charity strategy they’ve implemented. I have some cautionary advice.

Justin Hart

CMO at large. I live at the intersection of AI, machine learning and marketing. It’s a busy corner! (I need to model that).