1. Helping individuals give to charity
  2. Making charities stronger
  3. CAF Venturesome >
  4. Governance >
  5. Global Alliance >
  6. Campaigns and Public Affairs >
  7. Research >
  8. Blog Home >
  9. CAF Resilience programme >
  10. Careers >
  11. Media office >
    1. CAF welcomes party leaders’ commitments to Legacy 10 campaign
    2. CAF welcomes launch of Give More campaign
    3. New online tool for charities makes social investment simple
    4. Religious donors give more than double those of no faith
    5. Paul Cheng moves on from CAF
    6. Ted Hart appointed new CEO of CAF America
    7. CAF respond to arts donation figures
    8. Government urged to foster stronger giving culture
    9. Tax changes could strangle major donations - says charity
    10. Motherhood can change our giving
    11. CAF and Legal & General to launch pioneering local social investment scheme
    12. Charity staff in Kent help bring in £37,000 for Sport Relief
    13. CAF leads campaign with NCVO to drop ‘charity tax’
    14. Philanthropists say Budget change will slash charitable donations
    15. CAF responds to Chancellor's comments about tax relief
    16. Top charity execs: Government cap on tax relief will hit donations from major donors
    17. Poll reveals scale of backbench discontent on charity tax changes
    18. CAF responds to comments made by Treasury minister David Gauke
    19. South London music charity keeps up their good work
    20. Fewer than one in four support Government tax relief cap on charitable donations
    21. CAF congratulates winners of 2012 Business Charity Awards
    22. The Sunday Times Giving List 2012
    23. Charity Awards 2012 shortlist
    24. Charity Tax cap will cost society up to £1.5 billion a year
    25. Pasty tax and caravan tax: charity tax must be next to save “Big Society” says charity
    26. Our response to Government u-turn on charity tax
    27. Her Majesty’s Charity Work is an Example to the World
    28. HALO Trust wins top award at Charity Awards 2012
    29. Government announces endowment funds to arts organisations
    30. CAF comments on Government's announcement on Giving
    31. Donations to Armed Forces charities surge, while giving to other charities dips
    32. United Score in First Premiership Battle as Britain’s First League of Giving is Revealed
    33. CAF Social Impact Fund supports 80,000 in a year, as demand for charity funding grows
    34. Community sports clubs and charities face 15% slump in income – despite 'Olympic Effect'
    35. Make people with disabilities role models say public as Paralympic Effect takes hold – poll
    36. Payroll Giving organisations seek ways to work together
    37. Banking reforms will cost charities millions, say charity leaders
    38. Ed Balls Tops CAF's Generation Game
    39. Charities face generation time-bomb, as younger people lose the habit of giving – report
    40. Government-backed programme to fund ‘good causes’ launches
    41. Government payment by results reforms risk leaving charities in the cold – report
    42. Banking Reform Bill will leave charity cash at risk
    43. CAF responds to PM's announcement on payment-by-results contracts
    44. CAF contact centre 7th in top industry award
    45. Donations to charity fall by 20% as fewer people give, UK Giving 2012 finds
    46. Charities Aid Foundation backing this year’s Children in Need
  12. Events >
  13. Publications >
  14. CAF Glossary of terms
  15. Security centre >

Media office

CAF is one of Europe’s largest charitable foundations. We produce research on charities and charitable giving, develop policy ideas and work with people, companies and charities to help good causes thrive.

Our Media team provides journalists with comments, interviews and information. We can be contacted 24/7 and have an ISDN line for broadcast interviews. Call us on 03000 123 286.

Press releases

Contact our Media team

Press office direct line (24 hours): 03000 123 286


Blockchain could modernise the future of charity regulation

21 July 2016

Blockchain technology could modernise the way charities are registered and overseen – creating unprecedented transparency that could revolutionise the work of regulators, according to a new report from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).

The technology, which currently underpins the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, could be used to verify trustees, register and govern charities and make administrative requirements, like annual reporting, extinct.

CAF’s latest discussion paper, published today, comes as some of the world's biggest banks and most prominent financiers commit significant resources to exploring the possible effects of developing the decentralised, distributed public register.

Beyond it’s beginnings at the heart of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the blockchain has the potential for far broader applications.

 ‘Block and Tackle: Using blockchain technology to create and regulate civil society organisations’, explores the potential future impact of blockchain on charity and philanthropy and argues that the technology could make existing regulators more effective and efficient.

The three core elements of regulation - registration, reporting and enforcement  - would  benefit from reduced costs, streamlined  validation systems and a boost in levels of trust as organisations become more transparent.

The report suggests  that ultimately, almost all the functions of charity regulators could be automated.

The key ways these changes would occur include:

  • Verifying Trustees: The blockchain could enable a new model of highly secure, user-controlled online ID, which would make it possible to automate all the relevant background checks needed to confirm an individual is a suitable trustee.
  • Charities as blockchain entities: Charities could be registered on the blockchain using smart contracts, where computers can make, verify and enforce an agreement, linking all relevant documents with the IDs of trustees.
  • Real-time reporting: Annual reporting would no longer be necessary if transactions were conducted or recorded on the blockchain, as accurate, real-time information on spending would be available to everyone.
  • Proactive enforcement: Smart contracts could be used to provide an early-warning system for breaches, allowing problems to be dealt with before they escalate.
  • Governance-by-algorithm: Laws and regulations could be embedded in the very smart contracts governing how charities operate, so that it would not be possible to break them and hence enforcement would become unnecessary
  • Consensus-based regulation: the smart contracts in the system of governance-by algorithm could be agreed by consensus among the users of the system, with some appropriate oversight from the judicial system.


Rhodri Davies, author of the report and leader of the Giving Thought policy programme at CAF said:

“Today, charity and not-for-profit regulators around the world play a vital role. Here in the UK, registering with the appropriate regulator confers a status that helps organisations raise funds, bid for contracts, access gift aid, tax reliefs and other exemptions. 

“But as blockchain possibilities expand, the traditional role of the regulator is likely to shrink, bringing with it operational efficiencies which would benefit the not-for-profit sector.

“Blockchain technology is big news right now, but regardless of the specific technology that ends up being used, the future for charities is likely to see a move towards radical transparency, decentralised governance and greater automation of functions.

 “As some of the world’s biggest companies look towards blockchain to expand their horizons, and many governments and public bodies are exploring the ways in which the technology could improve their work, the charity sector has an opportunity to revolutionise regulation and transform how not-for-profit organisations are governed.”

CAF’s latest discussion paper is the third in a series looking at the potential impact of blockchain on charitable giving and social action. It is produced by Giving Thought, CAF’s in-house think tank which looks at key issues affecting civil society, philanthropy, social investment and the use of new technologies for social good.

CAF promotes charitable giving and provides financial services and social finance to not-for-profit organisations.

The full report can be viewed and downloaded here.

Contact: Simon Ward, Charities Aid Foundation, 0300 012 3286


Back to top