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Donate CPU time as well as money?

Donate CPU time as well as money?

Donors can give money, gifts in kind, and their time and expertise. The Web might offer some charities another abundant but overlooked resource: redundant PC processing time. Will the day come when fundraisers ask supporters to donate their unused computer processing unit (CPU) cycles? Major charities working on computer-intensive research projects, such as medical research charities, could output small packets of data to be processed by thousands of supporters’ home PCs, saving the time and resources of the charity.

Donors can give money, gifts in kind, and their time and expertise. The Web might offer some charities another abundant but overlooked resource: redundant PC processing time. Will the day come when fundraisers ask supporters to donate their unused computer processing unit (CPU) cycles? Major charities working on computer-intensive research projects, such as medical research charities, could output small packets of data to be processed by thousands of supporters’ home PCs, saving the time and resources of the charity.

The idea is already in operation in the form of the SETI@home project, which has linked with two million PCs worldwide in its analysis of radio telescope data in its search for extraterrestrial life.

Businesses are also looking at ways of co-ordinating and selling off this massive redundant PC power. Can charities make use of this “community computing” development?

Read Howard Rheingold’s You Got the Power in this month’s Wired magazine for an overview of this development, and visit SETI@home to see it in practice.

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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