Skip to main content

UNICEF wants you to mine cryptocurrency for charity

UNICEF wants you to mine cryptocurrency for charity

Share this story


UNICEF has launched a page that lets you donate to its Australian branch without giving any money at all. All you need to do is give away part of your computing power to let it mine cryptocurrency.

Over 2,600 people have already donated through what UNICEF calls The Hopepage. Users are able to set what percentage of processing power they’re willing to give the website out of a max of 80 percent. (Be careful not to set the percentage too high.) The longer they stay on the site, the more cryptocurrency they’re helping to mine on UNICEF’s behalf. The site says the cryptocurrency will go toward giving children life-saving supplies “like safe water, therapeutic food, and vaccines.”

Once you click Start Donating, a pop-up in the browser appears stating that “ would like to use your computing power,” assuring you that the algorithms work through your browser’s sandbox so no downloads are necessary. (It appears that the site may not work on everyone’s computer.) The notification says it’s powered by Coinhive’s Javascript-based mining tool. That’s the same tool used by Salon as an experimental alternative to generating ad revenue, and weirdly by Showtime websites for a brief period of time. The tool mines Monero, an alternative to bitcoin that is said to be more private because it shuffles users’ identifying information. Although Monero can rarely be used to purchase goods directly, it can be easily turned into fiat currency to buy supplies.

The Hopepage shows you the hash rate — the speed at which you’re mining cryptocurrency — in the upper right corner. For me, it said six hashes per second when I gave the site 20 percent of my 2015 MacBook Air’s computing power, a tiny but admirable effort. Once you’re donating, the page also tells you you’re giving toward Rohingya refugee children from Myanmar that have faced extreme danger and violence for being Muslim.

The more computing power you give away to The Hopepage, the more rapidly it will drain your battery and wear down your processor

If you’re on a laptop, you’ll notice your battery start draining after just a few minutes of using the site, if you’re not plugged into a power source. Be very careful as the more computing power you give away to, the more rapidly it will drain your battery and wear down your processor. It’s best to do this while plugged in.

It’s a creative way to get people to donate to charity, and it’s actually the second instance UNICEF has turned toward cryptocurrency to fund charity. This past February, it launched a site called asking visitors to mine Ethereum that would then be turned into funds for Syrian children. The effort has not been wildly successful as it’s only raised just over 996 euros (about $1,200) in the months it’s been live.

Still, we’re starting to see more people donate online in quick and painless ways. Facebook users are starting to ask their friends to donate to charities as a birthday present. The New Inquiry also launched a similar mining service last November called Bail Bloc, which donates Monero generated by users’ computing power to The Bronx Freedom Fund to help with posting bail. By default, Bail Bloc draws on 10 percent of a user’s computing power and you can manually set it to draw higher amounts if your computer can handle the extra burden.