Universities are used to accepting donations from alumni. They count on it.
But when the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma recently received a donation from 2007 graduate Nicholas Cary, its staff had to do some homework.
That's because Cary gave the $10,000 donation in the form of 14.5 Bitcoin, which is a global virtual currency that's been around for about five years.
Sherry Mondou, the University's vice president for finance and administration, said she was intrigued to learn more about the digital currency. In fact, she said the school may be the very first university to accept a gift of Bitcoin.
"When I first heard of the gift, I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be really interesting,’” Mondou said. “We needed to find out how we could receive it, liquidate it and what the risks were and learn the entire process. I think it took three to four weeks to go through all of that."
Mondou said the school was eventually able to accept the $10,000 gift and convert it to cash. “It was something that we could accommodate, kind of similarly to a stock gift or a gift of foreign currency,” she said.
Mondou said, thanks to this experience, the school has a leg up and will be able to process any future Bitcoin donations in a matter of days.
“Our development and finance staff collaborated beautifully,” she said. “They now have a great setup with ‘BitPay,’ our payment processor. So, it could be a whole lot more routine. We have a lot of innovative, entrepreneurial alumni and so we want to be there to learn about what they're doing and see what's possible on our end."
While the school has no plans to use Cary’s gift for any special digital currency research fund, Mondou said the money will support the university for financial aid.
Produced for the Web by Akiko Oda.