Charity Engine is the “world wide computer”, aimed at getting volunteers to donate a tiny piece of spare computer power on their PCs to benefit a whole bunch of charities, such as Care International and Amnesty International.
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Charity Engine is a free Web app that sits quietly in the background of any PC, and it helps raise money for charities by working with thousands of other PCs as part of the Charity Engine grid. Official partners at the moment include ActionAid, Amnesty, CARE, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, Practical Action, Sightsavers, War on Want and Water Aid.
The grid works like a giant supercomputer, and can be hired like one by big companies. For science and industry, it acts as a cheap solution to enhancing their computing demands. Supercomputers and data-centres typically cost millions of dollars to operate, whereas Charity Engine uses existing resources more efficiently and for cheaper.
Indeed, here’s an interesting statistic, courtesy of the good people at Charity Engine: A mere half-percent (0.5%) of the Internet is more powerful than every supercomputer on Earth…combined.
There is actually an additional incentive beyond mere altruism for you to get involved, however. Each month, the profits are split 50-50 between Charity Engine’s partners and one volunteer who has Charity Engine running on their PC, chosen at random. The more work a PC has done, the more chances its owner has to win – and the prize can be a much as $1m.
The logic behind the initiative is pretty sound. Many modern home computers are over-specified for what people actually use them for, and they can spend much of their time wasting electricity waiting for the next keystroke. Instead, users can run Charity Engine without really noticing their machine slowing down at all, and for just a tiny increase in energy consumption – about the same as charging one or two mobile phones. So we’re talking a matter of pennies each day.
Charity Engine is a pretty ingenious way to raise money for charity. And to be entered into a never-ending series of prize draws too is the icing on the cake.
Charity Engine uses BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing), the very same software behind the SETI@home project, and the BBC’s ClimatePrediction.net. In fact, the Director of the BOINC project, Professor David Anderson of UC Berkeley, is personally working with Charity Engine. Charity Engine was three years in the making, and has received £200k in private seed funding.
If you want to get involved today, The Next Web’s readers can sign-up using the following invite code: TNW. And the next prize draw is for $10,000, taking place in January 2012.