Today I planned to attend my first nonprofit event in Second Life as Infinity Kane (my virtual alter ego), but my plans were thwarted by outdated video card drivers. Until I figure out what that means and how to fix it, I’ll have to satisfy my “SL” curiosity through the experience of others, as chronicled online.
One of the biggest nonprofit presences in Second Life is the Nonprofit Commons (watch TechSoup’s intro on YouTube), an “office park” that opened last year to provide free virtual office space to 32 nonprofits (see Tenant Directory). The virtual land for Nonprofit Commons was donated by Anshe Chung, the virtual real estate agent who graced the cover of Business Week in 2006 as Second Life’s first real-life millionaire.
TechSoup has a Nonprofits in Second Life blog (NPSL), and the NPSL wiki links to some interesting media coverage of the Nonprofit Commons, including an in-depth and totally fascinating article titled Pixelanthropy: Charities tap into Second Life (MSNBC/Contribute magazine, January 10, 2008). I also got the scoop on other virtual worlds via the Virtual World Tour on YouTube (recently featured on Beth’s Blog and the NPSL blog).
So what exactly are nonprofits doing in Second Life?
I had heard about the American Cancer Society’s Second Life Relay for Life, which is entering its fourth year and raised more than $118,000 in 2007. And the MacArthur Foundation’s year-long exploration of philanthropy in virtual worlds (read Jonathan Fanton’s remarks, June 22, 2007, or watch an excerpt from the Second Life event on YouTube).
The Pixelanthropy article linked above cites examples that include Save the Children’s Yak Shack, a 3-D animal pageant; a virtual Camp Darfur; the American Heart Association’s virtual tour through a malfunctioning heart; and a “fly-a-thon” to raise money for multiple sclerosis research. It also references other nonprofit gathering grounds in Second Life: Commonwealth Islands and Better World Island. In terms of more recent events, below is a roundup of seven nonprofit Second Life events organized during the first quarter of 2008 (also see NPSL’s calendar of upcoming events).
If you’re reading this post and have participated in a nonprofit event or space on Second Life, I’d love to hear what your experience was like. What do you think are the pros and cons of events or spaces in Second Life versus real life? Also, a lot of events seem to be held simultaneously in the virtual and real worlds. Is that a prerequisite for success?
Sampling of Nonprofit Events in Second Life – First Quarter 2008
March 22: WaterPartners Village
launches in Second Life and other social networking sites on World Water Day (also see Emerald City blog post
and press release
From press release: “…WaterPartners Village is hosting a live virtual music festival featuring the most popular performers in Second Life, as well as free hot-air balloon rides to tour the scenic landscape of the virtual village. The WaterPartners villagers will blog about their journey to obtain safe drinking water and sanitation for themselves and their families, beginning on World Water Day and continuing through summer 2008.”
March 20: International Justice Center Opens
From NPSL: “Global Kids, the foremost nonprofit in virtual world education, is set to launch the International Justice Center within Second Life …. The inaugural event will feature a presentation and discussion by Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. During the launch, the ICC Prosecutor will appear in avatar form…”
March 8-9: In the Pink Virtual Show
From NPSL: “A collaborative of Second Life residents will be presenting … a series of one-acts intended to fight gender violence …. IN THE PINK celebrates the strength of women, exploring sexuality and what it means to be a woman in real life and on Second Life.”
January 28: Virtual Liberties: Do Avatars Dream of Civil Rights?
From NPSL: “…a public forum … featuring Jack Balkin, First Amendment legal expert at Yale Law School, and Robin Linden, head of marketing and business development at Linden Lab…. This will be a multi-verse event, taking place both in Second Life and Teen Second Life, as well as audio streamed to the web for the VW-impaired.”