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What Are Bitcoin Ordinals and How Can They Help Nonprofits?

“I see the advancement for fundraising and nonprofits is the ability to make something more special, more scarce, more limited, more unique.”
By Alicia Maule (Givepact) and Drew Simon (Crypto Altruism)
May 2, 2023

Over the past few months, you have likely heard about Bitcoin Ordinals, which have taken the Web 3 world by storm. Beyond the obvious use cases, such as collecting digital artifacts, Ordinals, which are essentially Bitcoin NFTs, present exciting new opportunities for nonprofits looking to grow their presence in the cryptocurrency community. But before we dive any deeper into the potential for nonprofits to leverage Bitcoin Ordinals, let’s take a moment to explain the basics behind them.

What are Ordinals?

Bitcoin Ordinals are an open-source project by developer Casey Rodarmor that creates unique digital artifacts by attaching data, such as images, videos, or other digital content, to a specific satoshi on the Bitcoin blockchain. A satoshi is the smallest unit of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, named after the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. Unlike traditional Non Fungible Tokens (NFTS) made on Ethereum, which exist on separate blockchains or layers, Ordinals are created on the base Bitcoin blockchain itself.

“Humans are collectors, and since satoshis can now be tracked and transferred, people will naturally want to collect them,” Rodarmor said in the Ordinal Theory Handbook.

“Ordinal theorists can decide for themselves which sets are rare and desirable.”

Rodarmor also makes a clear distinction between NFTs and Ordinal digital artifacts explaining the following:

  • Digital artifacts can have owners. A number is not a digital artifact, because nobody can own it.
  • Digital artifacts are complete. An NFT that points to off-chain content on IPFS or Arweave is incomplete, and thus not a digital artifact.
  • Digital artifacts are permissionless. An NFT which cannot be sold without paying a royalty is not permissionless, and thus not a digital artifact.
  • Digital artifacts are uncensorable. Perhaps you can change a database entry on a centralized ledger today, but maybe not tomorrow, and thus one cannot be a digital artifact.
  • Digital artifacts are immutable. An NFT with an upgrade key is not a digital artifact.

Since their launch in January 2023, the growing community of users, developers, and enthusiasts have minted over 3M Ordinals, showcasing the potential of native Bitcoin digital artifacts. The excitement surrounding Ordinal signals a significant interest in this type of digital artifact within the cryptocurrency community.

“I am over the moon ecstatic about the attention that the Ordinals have brought to the Bitcoin ecosystem,” said Heather Ray Doyle, the founder of Coinqueens, who is launching a series on Ordinals representing 22 women-led Ethereum projects.

The idea behind Bitcoin Ordinals is to leverage the security and immutability of the Bitcoin blockchain to create unique and valuable digital assets that cannot be replicated or counterfeited. By attaching unique digital content to a satoshi on the blockchain, the content becomes a one-of-a-kind asset that can be bought, sold, and traded just like other NFTs, providing valuable rails for nonprofit fundraising.

Ordinals unique value add for nonprofit fundraising  

The use cases for Bitcoin ordinals in the context of charitable giving are still being explored, but one possibility is that they could be used to create unique digital collectibles or other assets that can be auctioned off to raise funds for charitable causes.

While several nonprofits have experimented with NFT fundraising, typically on the Ethereum blockchain, Doyle, who has raised thousands of dollars through Ethereum NFT collections for Kids Beating Cancer, believes Ordinals offer nonprofits value and scarcity beyond Ethereum’s potential. 

“Bitcoin’s [market cap] is over $500 billion now …it's just such a much larger pool of currency to be donated from. I see the advancement for fundraising and nonprofits is the ability to make something more special, more scarce, more limited, more unique.” Doyle is right, since Bitcoin makes up about 47% of the cryptocurrency market, compared to 19% of Ethereum. 

Bitcoin Ordinals and cryptocurrency at large can help charities in several ways:

  • Transparency: Bitcoin Ordinals provide a transparent record of all transactions, making it easier for charities to track donations and ensure they are being used for their intended purpose. Donors can also track their donations using Bitcoin Ordinals, which provides a level of transparency and accountability that is not possible with traditional forms of giving.
  • Lower transaction fees: Bitcoin transactions typically have lower transaction fees than traditional payment methods like credit cards, which means more of the donation goes towards the charity's cause.
  • Global reach: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are global currencies that can be used to send donations anywhere in the world. This makes it easier for donors to support charities that operate in other countries, and for charities to receive donations from supporters around the world.
  • Faster transactions: Bitcoin transactions are processed much faster than traditional payment methods, which means charities can receive donations more quickly and respond to emergencies or urgent needs in a more timely manner.
  • Cryptocurrency fundraising events: Nonprofits can also host cryptocurrency fundraising events, where they encourage attendees to make Bitcoin donations. During these events, nonprofits can display their bitcoin ordinals, provide information about the benefits of donating in cryptocurrency, and offer incentives such as exclusive access or recognition for cryptocurrency donations.
  • Partnership opportunities: The world of cryptocurrency presents new partnership opportunities for nonprofits looking to grow their network of support. This could include impact DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) with a similar focus as the nonprofit, Web3 collections, or corporate partners such as cryptocurrency exchanges. Many of these organizations are early in their development, making now a perfect opportunity to get involved on the ground level, and form mutually beneficial partnerships.

OnChainMonkey and Yuga Labs take a lead in Bitcoin Ordinals for Charity

OnChainMonkey (OCM) has established itself as a prominent figure within the NFT community, consistently being ahead of the curve. The project made history by uploading its entire 10,000 NFT collection to Ethereum in a single transaction. With the launch of the new Ordinals protocol, OCM has become one of the first 10,000 Profile Picture (PFP) projects on the Bitcoin blockchain.

However, the Metagood team was faced with a dilemma of balancing their commitment to sustainability with the environmental impact of Bitcoin's proof-of-work blockchain.

To address this issue, the team uploaded their OCM collection to Bitcoin in a single transaction using only 20,000 bytes of data, similar to how they uploaded their original Ethereum collection. This way, they could leverage the security of Bitcoin without contributing to the chain's bloat.

The decision to shift to Ordinals was not motivated by a trend. Instead, the Metagood team saw an opportunity for Bitcoin to be used as a protocol to store data. Although Ordinals is still an incomplete protocol, the team believes that it may be better suited for NFT-type inscriptions than Ethereum when it is fully developed.

Danny Yang, one of the members of the Metagood team told NFT Now, "Ethereum's smart contracts are great for NFTs, but Bitcoin is more secure. If you think something is valuable, it should be on the most valuable and most secure chain."

Yuga Labs, the team behind the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT project, launched the NFT collection named TwelveFold, minted on the Ordinals protocol, generating $16.5M. The collection features 300 generative art NFTs displayed on a 12 x 12 grid. This grid serves as a representation of the data cartography on the Bitcoin blockchain. Of the 300 pieces, 288 were auctioned off to the highest bidder and the remaining 12 were set aside for  “contributors, donations, and philanthropic efforts,” Yuga Labs said.


One of the biggest barriers to entry for nonprofits is a lack of trust in cryptocurrency, and feelings of intimidation towards the technology behind cryptocurrency. Bitcoin, as the most well-known cryptocurrency, presents an accessible and trusted on-ramp for nonprofits interested in dipping their toes into the world of Web 3.

Bitcoin Ordinals, and cryptocurrency more generally, provide unique opportunities for nonprofits to future-proof their operations, and scale impact through new fundraising strategies, partnership opportunities, and the ability to connect with a global community of passionate and generous innovators. 

Ready to mint your first Ordinals? Get started.