A new platform allows NGOs to raise money by mining cryptocurrency while a computer is idle.
At Springwise, we have seen charities use an increasingly wide variety of models for fundraising. These have included creating a feature film to encourage organ donations and a social media app that makes micro-philanthropy easy. Now, petition platform Change.org and marketing agency TraceyLocke Brazil have created a screensaver that mines Bitcoin for charity. The screensaver allows people and companies to turn their computer’s idle time into donations.
Bitcoin ‘miners’ use special software to solve complex math problems. As the problems are solved, the miners receive a certain amount of Bitcoins in exchange. Usually, mining takes place on large networks of special computers that are dedicated to mining, because a single ordinary computer acting alone would take a very long time to mine enough Bitcoin to be useful. For example, a dedicated mining computer might mine just 0.40 Bitcoin or less in one month. The Mining Screensaver pools the mining efforts of many computers to speed this up. Each computer earns a micro-fraction of a Bitcoin. Once mined, all of the micro-fractions of Bitcoin automatically transfer to the Change.org Foundation account and become donations.
A study by the University of California at Irvine found that desktop computers spent around 60 percent of their time idle. The Mining Screensaver uses this time profitably for fundraising. Change.org estimates that 10,000 computers, using the screensaver for 12 hours every day, could raise around 10,000 USD worth of Bitcoin in one month. While Bitcoin mining is usually very energy intensive, the Mining Screensaver takes advantage of energy that is already going to waste, and puts it to good use. The project is also open source, meaning that other NGOs can develop their own fundraising projects using the platform. Will the Mining Screensaver project allow Bitcoin mining to become a profitable fundraising tool?