Bitcoin’s a gift for Ronald McDonald House

  • Ronald McDonald and children cut the ribbon to officially open the new Ronald McDonald House of the Capital Region at 141 S. Lake Ave. in Albany on June 27, 2015. (Steve Barnes / Times Union)

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It’s that time of year again.

Nov. 29 marks the launch of the annual #GivingTuesday, a nationwide “get out and give” initiative dedicated to charitable giving.

The event celebrates and encourages philanthropic activities that support nonprofit organizations by harnessing the power of social media to create a national day of giving at the start of the holiday season, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become synonymous with holiday shopping.


Many local nonprofits have embraced the initiative. Some are teaming up with businesses, including the Ronald McDonald House of the Capital Region, which will receive 10 percent of apparel sales through Nov. 24 from the Bitcoin Store.

“I loved the idea of being able to accept micro-donations over the internet,” said Jeff Yule, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of the Capital Region. “We already accept micro-donations from the canisters found in McDonald’s restaurants, so bitcoin helped us accept them digitally as well.”

Seeing an opportunity to channel the generosity of the holiday season into action, a group of friends, partners and philanthropy experts came together to create #GivingTuesday.

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Ronald McDonald House of the Capital Region: for more information, go to https://www.rmhcofalbany.org.


More than 30,000 charities, businesses, families and individuals in 71 countries participate in the effort to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

With a mantra of “give more, give better and give smarter,” the initiative offers creative ways for people and nonprofits to collaborate in charitable endeavors to achieve more meaningful results.

And the global day of giving fueled by social media continues to grow. Nonprofits around the world participate to raise awareness, generate support and demonstrate how philanthropy can transform communities.

“The bitcoin community has a history of being very charitable, and we wanted to continue this pattern by supporting the Ronald McDonald House of the Capital Region,” said the Bitcoin Store’s Stephen Macaskill. “They are providing valuable services for extremely ill children and their families, and we couldn’t be happier to see bitcoin make a positive impact on them this GivingTuesday.”

The Bitcoin Store is the first to admit: bitcoin is a very confusing phenomenon.

Some people think bitcoin is money, while others think it’s a payment system.

Bitcoin is an online financial network used to send payments from one person to another. In many ways, it’s similar to conventional payment networks like credit cards or Paypal. But Bitcoin is different in two ways — it’s decentralized, meaning no institutions control the money network, and comes with its own currency.

The Bitcoin Store will make its donation to the Ronald McDonald House of the Capital Region’s Families First Fund via bitcoin.

The nonprofit began accepting bitcoin donations in November 2014 after hearing about the currency from the NY Bitcoin Group.

The Ronald McDonald House of the Capital Region provides a home away from home, free of charge, for families with children who are terminally ill or facing life-threatening illnesses.

Staffed by volunteers and funded through donations, the house offers more than just home-cooked meals and a comfortable place to stay. It helps families face the burdens of childhood illness by providing a loving, compassionate environment where they can rest without having to worry about basic necessities.

After opening a newly-renovated residence last year, Ronald McDonald House can now serve more than 750 families per year, up from 550. The average stay is 11 days, but families have lived there for a year or more.

Since opening 34 years ago, the Ronald McDonald House of the Capital Region has hosted more than 14,000 families from 37 New York counties, 38 states and 29 countries. Housing costs the facility about $80 per family per night, though neither families nor their insurance, if they have it, are ever charged. Fundraising pays for daily operations, and different volunteer groups buy food and cook dinner every night of the year.

“Ronald McDonald House of the Capital Region was one of the first charities we worked with in 2014,” said Paul Paterakis, a member of the NY Bitcoin Group. “It’s nice to see our work with them lead to partnerships like this.”

jpatterson@timesunion.com • @JenSPatterson • 518-454-5340

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