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On April 30, a virtual benefit co-hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and NASA engineer-turned-YouTuber Mark Rober raised more than $3 million in contributions for NEXT for AUTISM, a charity devoted to meeting the needs of individuals with autism and their families across the United States.
The immersive livestream included a slew of well-known entertainers, comedians, artists, and celebrities, including Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and Charlize Theron.
The virtual profit has also advanced into the digital currency era, with crypto lender Nexo and The Giving Block providing a payment mechanism for viewers to donate to the charity using a variety of crypto properties. Donations in Dai (DAI), The Graph (GRT), Litecoin (LTC), Storj (STORJ), Zcash (ZEC), 0x (ZRX), and other altcoins were accepted in addition to Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).
Now that the livestream has ended, Nexo has left open its crypto donations portal for viewers to catch up and contribute their funds to the charity. The organisation stated that it was still collecting data from ongoing crypto donations and would update its final count shortly. Meanwhile, a delegate from The Giving Block presented the organization’s own estimates for cryptocurrency generated through Color The Spectrum:
“The event raised over $440,000 in crypto donations from about 100 donors. In general, the crypto community continues to be incredibly generous, especially during bull markets. We’re seeing millions of dollars donated on a monthly basis.”
While the event was successful in engaging high-profile stars and raising funds, a large section of the autism community has voiced criticism of multiple aspects of the Color The Spectrum initiative. In one open letter signed by a group of autism activists, they pointed to their concerns about the recipient charity, NEXT for AUTISM, highlighting its failure to communicate directly with autistic-led organizations. There has also been a high level of dissent regarding NEXT’s controversial contribution of funds to the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain. The latter is an organization that researches the causes of and “cures” for autism, an approach that the autistic community has condemned as eugenicist and unacceptable.
Mark Rober has responded to the above open letter and its critiques, resulting in a dialogue that the writers have described as constructive. Some members of the group have expressed disappointment that all of the event’s attendees have not properly addressed their issues. In the meantime, autism activists have created their own hashtag, #FinanceTheSpectrum, to expose NEXT’s inability to fix the chronic under- and unemployment that autistic people face.
The Giving Block is a big crypto donations site that has previously collaborated with numerous crypto industry actors. Last month, the foundation announced the “Crypto Giving Pledge,” which allows cryptocurrency holders to donate at least 1% of their assets to charity per year.
Based on the market capitalisation of digital assets in late April, the time of the initiative’s inception, The Giving Block estimates that if every investor in the crypto market contributed 1% of their shares to charities, they will collectively raise $20 billion.