NFTs for Good
The way NFTs and their on-chain history tells stories makes them a uniquely potent tool to mobilize people for good causes.
Recently, we released our follow-up collection to Dastardly Ducks, Yo Kitties, a partnership with Iron Chef Cat Cora — a hero of mine for years. Though we were the ones in crisis before the launch of the ducks, we were determined to use our collections as a way to raise funds for other good causes, such as other struggling homesteaders and, now, Ukraine. This is one of the most massive untapped potentials for NFTs, even if not for personal wealth-building: NFTs for good.
There is an anti-NFT reactionary backlash that runs rampant on some parts of social media, especially Twitter. In February, the World Wildlife Fund attempted to release NFTs, but was pressured to halt their sales, supposedly due to concerns over the environmental impact. However, these NFTs are on Polygon, a blockchain already using the pivotal Proof of Stake technology that reduces blockchain power consumption by 99.99+%.
Frustratingly, articles at the time framed the misguided climate concerns — something I say as a lifelong environmentalist doing regenerative agriculture in large part for that reason — as valid, talking about how WWF seemed to believe this or that, or simply quoting the sensationalist concerns of those uninformed about the specifics of blockchain technologies.
This is just par for the course with the advent of many new technologies, where the most attention is given to the most click-worthy soundbites, often very negative at first. However, as ignoble as it may be, this is exactly why we will see more and more attention being given to NFTs that raise a lot of money for good causes. As the technology’s presence in our life becomes normalized and seems less strange to the average person, hate clicks will become harder to farm — but everyone loves an inspirational story.
We have seen it already directly at smol farm. Much of the news articles about us, especially the CNBC article, got the platforms and the attention that they did because they told an uplifting, inspirational story about us. In a time when the world is wracked with so many large-scale problems, us saving our home through NFTs literally overnight proved the kind of story a lot of people wanted to tell — and hear.
So many more inspirational stories are springing up in solidarity with Ukraine, of which our new one is only a smol one. UkraineDAO — to whom the Yo Kitties project has already donated thousands of dollars worth of Ethereum — was formed to accept cryptocurrency donations and allocate them to good causes helping those victimized by the war. It already has almost 18,000 followers on Twitter and has raised many millions of dollars. They even issued a “POAP,” a special type of commemorative NFT for events, for the initial round of donors.
Though some may find this sort of reward system strange, many fundraisers already rely on either selling something or giving you a gift or a prize for your donation — from bands and sports teams selling chocolate bars to NPR giving you a tote bag if you donate enough. Though it may not appeal to you personally or you may wish for an idealistic, pure world where people give entirely out of generosity, the reality is these mechanisms — whether NFTs or a physical good — work. People use these tactics because they increase the amount of money raised.
Many who do not take art seriously may find it easy to dismiss art as mere pictures, nothing more than the subject that they depict. But art is so much more than the image itself — it’s also the story it tells. By using these methods for fundraising, it intertwines the story of the fundraising in the fabric of the overall project — fundraising that can continue through the royalty systems used in NFTs. The fundraising becomes part of the art.
The Dastardly Ducks are more than cartoon ducks, they’re the cute creatures who saved our home. The Yo Kitties are more than just a sequel, we’re donating a lot of the proceeds to Ukraine and struggling homesteaders. Over time, we want to build the lore and the world of these cute characters more, but their story bridges our world and theirs through the ways the funds they raised were used.
On many NFT sites, if you look underneath the art, you will see a provenance section, which lists all the steps the NFT took to its current owner. When you realize every single NFT tells its own story, and every collection tells a collective story that is bigger than the sum of its parts, they become so much more than mere tokens with pictures attached. Wanting to be a part of that story motivates people to donate in a more profound way than even a tote bag can.
The inspirational stories that NFT collections with good causes tell will inspire others to act and help those skeptical of the technology see its benefits. By letting people meaningfully take part in something bigger than themselves in a way recorded forever, they will feel more eager to be generous. Newspapers, desperate for as many clicks as possible, will be desperate to tell their stories. NFTs as a tool for good will change the world. We have only seen the beginning.
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