What Blockchain Could Mean for the Nonprofit and Volunteering Industries
People are frequently applying blockchain technology to industries ranging from logistics to finance. That’s due, in part, to blockchain’s promise of improved security.
The blockchain is not immune to hacking attempts, but one of the factors that people often cite in favor of blockchain security is the way the blockchain’s distributed ledger technology means no single vulnerability gives cybercriminals access to all information at once.
Here are some ways blockchain’s increased security could help the nonprofit and volunteering industries.
Protecting Nonprofits From Cyberattacks
Although some nonprofit representatives realize cybersecurity is a concern for their organizations, there is often a gap between knowing that the risk exists and taking action to prevent it.
Various aspects can make nonprofits particularly prone to cyberattacks. Sometimes they use old computer equipment with outdated software. In other cases, they may think they lack the resources to make cybersecurity a priority.
There’s also a common line of thought where nonprofits assume they won’t have information hackers want. But, consider the financial information given by donors. That’s just one example of details that hackers could seize and exploit.
As such, nonprofits need to put detailed cybersecurity plans in place, and many of them will do so after undergoing cybersecurity audits. The blockchain is still a relatively new aspect of cybersecurity for nonprofits, but as technology progresses, it’ll likely play a more prominent role.
Improving Password Best Practices
It’s also important for nonprofits to come up with a set of best practices for their staff and volunteers to follow while working for the organization. Some of the guidelines might include always logging out of internal interfaces after use and never sharing passwords with colleagues.
Speaking of passwords — one of the recommendations for making them sufficiently strong is to ensure they’re at least 11 characters long. Moreover, representatives of nonprofits should encourage their paid workers and volunteers to choose hard-to-guess passwords, such as ones with a mixture of characters, numbers and letters and those that avoid things like the names of pets, sports teams or bands.
Those are undoubtedly excellent tips to follow. There’s a possibility, too, that the blockchain could make passwords even more secure — or make them obsolete. Several companies are exploring ways to make the blockchain replace traditional passwords.
If those solutions gain momentum, people could get accustomed to keeping their accounts protected without the usual methods of typing in and remembering passwords.
Stopping Data Tampering
Data tampering happens during unauthorized changes to a person’s data. Acronis is a company that offers data storage enhanced with blockchain technology. It makes a cryptographic hash or “fingerprint” for each piece of stored data. The algorithm creates different fingerprints for each change in an input file, making it easy to detect tampering.
The hash serves as a unique signature for each file. Then, the blockchain stores the hash in multiple places due to the distributed ledger format. At this point, it’s worth clarifying that one of the general characteristics of the blockchain is that data stored on it is immutable. How does this apply to the nonprofit sector?
Research shows decreasing trust in nonprofits from individuals in the U.S. There are undoubtedly many reasons for that reduced trust, and the blockchain cannot target all of them. But, if people worry about the security of their data once they interact with nonprofits, they’ll probably hesitate to volunteer with or donate money to the organization.
Nonprofits could spark more peace of mind by explaining how the blockchain stops people from manipulating data.
Improving Interactions With Volunteers
Volunteers want to feel that they’ve made good decisions by choosing to give their time to nonprofit organizations. However, their needs may unintentionally get overlooked if staff members are swamped by volunteer paperwork and don’t have adequate time left for face-to-face interactions.
Zhiyuan Hui is the world’s largest volunteer service platform, and it wants to perfect a blockchain-based application that verifies service hours given. So far, volunteers contributed more than 100 million service hours while using the application, which runs on the everiToken blockchain. Volunteers can accurately and securely record their hours, plus get rewarded for their time in the form of a cryptocurrency called the Yi Coin.
That system creates a win-win situation because it reduces paperwork for volunteer coordinators and gives them more time to meet with volunteers, help them feel valued and address their concerns. Plus, volunteers get rewarded beyond the perks that usually come with volunteering.
Similarly, a company called HullCoin links community organizations with volunteers and rewards the latter with a digital currency they can spend at local retailers. This is another example of a secure way to show gratitude toward volunteers with help from the blockchain.
Hull is a city in East Yorkshire, England, and HullCoin helps facilitate economic stimuli. It offers the chance for local businesses to get boosts when volunteers do business with them to redeem their rewards.
A Potential Revolution for Nonprofits and Volunteers
The use cases here illuminate why the blockchain could be so important for nonprofits, the volunteers involved with them and the data associated with all parties.
As more companies continue to test possible ways to apply blockchain technology to increase security, the benefits to nonprofits could become even more apparent.
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What Blockchain Could Mean for the Nonprofit and Volunteering Industries was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.