New charity harnessing NFT crypto craze to help people affected by coronavirus

A UK-wide charity looking to support those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic has just debuted the auction of a non-fungible token (NFT), tapping into the cryptocurrency craze to raise funds for its launch.

Covid:aid, which has been set up by Scottish entrepreneur Michael MacLennan, is looking to launch in early May, and says it will be the first UK charity wholly dedicated to supporting people of any age affected by the Covid-19 pandemic across the country.

The charity’s online NFT auction has gone live, enabling the winning bidder to gain the title of “world’s first charity-founding crypto-philanthropist”.

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NFTs are cryptographic tokens that represent something unique, and you cannot exchange them for other cryptocurrencies or goods, like you can with money. The craze has been making headlines and hit a peak in recent weeks, with the value of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase hitting almost $100 billion (£72bn) soon after trading. Recently an art NFT sold for a record $69 million, Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey sold his first Tweet for more than £2.9m, and an NFT of a New York Times article fetched $560,000.

Covid:aid founder Michael MacLennan said philanthropists who bid 'will be putting themselves into the history books, and doing so for a great cause'. Picture: contributed.
Covid:aid founder Michael MacLennan said philanthropists who bid 'will be putting themselves into the history books, and doing so for a great cause'. Picture: contributed.

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Covid:aid’s NFT auction will run for 24 hours once a minimum bid of one ether – a unit of cryptocurrency currently worth just over £1,660 – is received. The charity will plough this initial investment into building and expanding the services it intends to offer.

It also said that although other NFTs have been sold with proceeds going to non-profit organisations, this is the first one created and auctioned by a charity, and that will be directly credited as part of its founding.

This auction is for an NFT containing Covid:aid’s first logo, designed by James RE Boynton. It is taking place on Foundation, which it said is one of the most popular platforms for NFT auctions. American whistleblower Edward Snowden recently sold an NFT on Foundation for more than $5 million.

This auction is for an NFT containing Covid:aid’s first logo, designed by James RE Boynton. Picture: contributed.

Mr MacLennan said: “It has been suggested that if an NFT of a piece of art sold for $69 million, then surely a charity NFT ought to raise more! However, at this stage even 1 per cent of that amount would be an amazing sum for Covid:aid. It would allow us to launch the charity and provide life-changing services to support all those across the UK affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gaining momentum

“We are looking to launch in early May with a limited range of services and expand these as we build our community and attract support – any financial assistance at this stage will make a huge difference. Any philanthropists who bid will be putting themselves into the history books, and doing so for a great cause.”

Covid:aid says it saw a gap in the market for a UK-wide initiative or charity specifically dedicated to supporting those affected by the pandemic, and saw that a partnership could be developed between some leading charities and the business sector.

It aims to provide practical help, advice, information, “online spaces where people can talk”, and will quickly add other digital support as it grows – becoming the go-to digital hub for all those affected by Covid-19. Initially it will focus on those with long Covid, those traumatised from having the disease, and families of its victims.

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