logo.jpgFAQs


Why can't I join the Nonprofit Commons in-world group? What's the difference between this group and the TechSoup in-world group?
The Nonprofit Commons in-world group is for NPC Tenants only. The TechSoup group is for anyone that wants to join.

I need the NPC and/or TechSoup logo. Where can I find it?
You can find it by going to this page to get the Files

Is there a notecard or blurb about each island and more information about Nonprofit Commons?
Yes there is, feel free to pick one up from any of our landing areas.

What's the process for becoming an NPC tenant? Is the process the same
for each location?
The process is the same for each location, basically, we place you on a waiting list, and contact you when we have a ready for you. See the Waiting List paperwork here.

The weekly meetings are at a time that I can almost never make. Can I
still be involved? Can we have the meetings at a different time?
You can definitely still be involved. We have many events that occur at different times. Tenants can schedule their own events if they would like, they just cannot overlap anyone else's ongoing events. We cannot change the meeting time as we have many people to accommodate from all over the world.

Who runs the Nonprofit Commons?
TechSoup and the community.

How is TechSoup related to the Nonprofit Commons?
TechSoup owns the Nonprofit Commons.

I am new to Second Life, How do I join it?

Go here to our How to Join Second Life page.

I want to volunteer, what can I do?
There are many things you can do, you can take a look at this page, and then contact the Volunteer Manager whose email is listed at the top of this page

How are donations to the Nonprofit Commons directed?
Donations to the Nonprofit Commons go to keeping the Nonprofit Commons going.

Our goal is to reach new audiences, how can this be done within the Nonprofit Common in Second Life?
TechSoup Article: Change the World by Working in a Virtual One
Videos
Nonprofit Commons in Second Life 2010:
Stories of Impact: National Service Inclusion Project

What are the demographics of users? Age ranges? Are they all over the map?
Nonprofits in Second Life Validation
Second Life in Numbers

How does fund raising work via SL?
Although the purpose of SL is to network, there are many ways in which people raise funds. Many organizations are impressed by what can be accomplished in SL
and choose to fund them. Organizations also apply for grants in order to receive funding. Many people also sell virtual goods, hold fundraisers, events, concerts, show art, and many other things that you would do to raise funds in real life, but to a much larger audience.
Relay for Life is a great success story of fund raising.

What is a typical SL experience? How can we use SL to inform, educate and interest people?
There are many classes that are available throughout Second Life, and user experiences that push the limits of the imagination.
For example, we have our own mentoring program, and we teach various courses and hold webinars.

How do I convince my board members/supervisor/organization/etc. that Second Life is worthwhile?


I can't edit the wiki/blog. How do I get access to edit the wiki/blog?
Email: NonprofitCommons(at)techsoup(dot)org


Tenant FAQ

FAQ


1. How are nonprofit organizations using Second Life?
Nonprofit organizations use Second Life both internally to improve their organizations functioning and externally for raising awareness about their organization. Internal uses include collaboration on projects, a place to learn from each other and to meet and share ideas in real time. SL is also used by nonprofits to advance their cause to a global/international audience, connect with other organizations doing similar work worldwide, hold online courses and provide support groups. Nonprofits working with disabled and ill clients use SL to give their clients better access to support and learning materials without having to leave their homes.

2a. What are some demographic characteristics of the nonprofit organizations within the Nonprofit Commons?
  • Residents are from around the world, over 21 US states represented and 9 countries around the world.
  • 2 of NPC's 4 sims are dedicated to specific vertical themes: The Health Commons is dedicated to nonprofits working with health related issues and the Eco Commons to nonprofits working with envioronmental related issues.
  • Many of NPC's resident organization are working with disabled clients
  • Some of NPC's resident are using SL to provide support group services to their clients.

2b. Weekly Averages for all sims as of June:
455 Unique Visitors
1288 Number of Visits
45 Minutes Average Visit Length
341 hours Total Time

3. What are the Benefits of joining the NPC community?

  • Community & Nonprofit Capacity Building (Support & Education)
o More than 400 members and over 70 NPC residents from around the world
o Encompasses 4 SIMs/Islands forming a new nonprofit/philanthropic archipelago
o Community Gateway and New Resident Learning Guides (Meets Accessibility Standards)
o Free office space to qualified nonprofits

o Nonprofit advisory services, workshops, and weekly nonprofit networking events
o Educational and fundraising events
o Support/knowledge base for grants

  • Virtual Tech Support: Virtual office hours for technical support, support community for nonprofit IT professionals
  • Research & Reporting:
o SL Impact Report: Comprehensive report on the real-world impact of nonprofits in Second Life
o Sharing of best practices for holding inworld events, interactive presentations, fundraising, volunteer engagement, and community building.
o U.S. Congressional Hearing: Online Virtual Worlds (4/1/08): NPC Founder, Susan Tenby, testified on the value of nonprofit work in virtual worlds, alongside Philip Rosedale

  • Examples of NPC Events & Projects:
o TechSoup Global's Multi-Platform Digital Storytelling Online Event and Community Challenge
o Transitions Project - Collaboration of like-minded organizations who met via Nonprofit Commons to create a set of individualized learning experiences and avenues for assistance for those who are homeless or in transition
o Earth Day NPC EcoCommons Mixed Reality Event
o Health Panel Expo Mixed Reality Event with real-world NetSquared Conference Panel and day-long topical panels
o Nonprofit virtual presentations as part of National Service Learning Conference and National Conference on Volunteering and Service



4. What are some of the advantages for nonprofit organization using a virtual environment such as Second Life?

  • Reaching a Global audience: 2 million people from around the world use Second Life.
  • Collaboration and Networking: All nonprofits who find networking to be beneficial were seeking to find, bring in, and collaborate with others focused on their same cause.Through in-world meetings, people from disparate parts of the globe can chat (by text and voice), share documents and information, work together on virtual projects, build communities around their causes, and counsel and support members and users.

  • Raising Capital: Volunteers, Fundraising, and Marketing

  • Online counseling and Support Services: Through Second Life people dealing with sensitive issues like addiction, HIV, sexual and physical abuse, can connect with one another in an environment where their anonymity can be guaranteed.

  • Interactive displays/presentations: Interactive displays and the immersive environment of Second Life enable nonprofits to tell their story in a visually rich and interactive environment not possible in real life. By creating an environment that inspires learning by the community, champions are made of casual visitors and alliances are formed between nonprofits. SL is also equipped with powerpoint and slideshow capability to enhance collaboration.

  • Environmental Benefit/Impact: Imagine the carbon (and cost savings) of participating in a global conference from the privacy of your own computer.



5. What are some of the disadvantages for nonprofit organizations using a virtual environment such as Second Life?

  • Second Life is still an emerging communication platform so its audience and reach are still limited though 2 million people is pretty impressive and it is growing each year.
  • Second Life's voice and streaming technology is suject to "internet weather" and are not yet 100% reliable, so it is often good to have a backup such as using skype in conjunction with Second Life.
  • While Second Life is the next best thing to real life communication, the graphics, while mimicking a sense of co presence are of course not a replacement for real life interaction, but rather an excellent supplement.
  • Second Life is an open environment, so while this is useful in reaching new audiences, it can also in the worst case leave meetings/events open to disruption by unpleasant people and in the worst case griefers.
  • Succesful fundraising is still limited in SL (please see below) in part because of the Linden exchange rate.


6. What are some examples of successful use and promotion of a nonprofit organization in the virtual environment?

  • Collaboration and Networking

o Transitions: A Place for Dreams: Several representatives of nonprofits with similar missions (Community Voicemail, Floaters, Bridges for Woman) and nonprofit technologists who all met in Second Life, are working together with on a virtual project that exists only in the Second Life. Together they are working on creating a set of individualized learning experiences and avenues for assistance for homeless or anyone else wanting to create a new life for themselves. Forthcoming is the publication of their academic paper "Transitions: A Place for Dreams -- Second Chances in Second Life", which describes the outcomes of participation in the curriculum for one student. In addition, Sandra Andrews of Floaters is the co-author of a book chapter coming out that describes the progress of a student through the Transitions curriculum in terms of art in Second Life.

o Other nonprofits, such as Sustainable Harvest International (SHI), providing farmers and communities in the tropics with long-term assistance implementing environmentally and economically sustainable technologies, were interested in collaborating via communities such as NPC to promote their cause, learn and leverage resources and capabilities. SHI noted that “Being involved in NPC has been great to see how other nonprofits make use of the virtual world.”


  • Raising Capital: Human Capital and Fundraising and Marketing

o The American Cancer Society has had tremendous fundraising success during the last four years it has hosted its virtual “Relay for Life” in Second Life, raising over US $200,000 in 2009
o Kiva.org has had some success with donation box but also the impact of the Linden currencies raised with their donation boxes. Kiva raised approximately US$1,000 as of May 2008 (after one year of operating the donation box), which it converted from Lindens into U.S. dollars and then re-invested in microfinance projects throughout the developing world. While the amount is relatively small, Kiva achieved impact via those donations, helping to fund 60 microshe started as a volunteer inside SL, but later expanded her volunteer
activities and took on assisting in SHI’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs of
corporate sponsors (i.e., she helps get businesses interested in supporting SHI). As a result,
while starting out as a SL volunteer, she now has two roles with SHI, in both SL and in real life.
SHI is pleased because it is a way to work with other nonprofits and do fundraising in SL while
benefiting from the corporate fundraising in real life.finance projects.
o However, for most nonprofits, the value of Second Life hasn't been the dollars raised, but rather the indirect benefits including increased awareness for their organization, networking, grant opportunities, and increased volunteer base

+ The Digital Campfires Foundation, a private nonprofit that uses computer technologies and software to bridge the digital divide, connected with others in Second Life and received nearly a semi truck load of real-world donated monitors and computers to support their cause.
+ Sustainable Harvest International (SHI), a UK-based nonprofits, got involved with Nonprofit Commons as a result of an interested volunteer for the organization convincing them to give Second Life a try. This volunteer has since expanded her volunteer activities by assisting in real life with SHI’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs of corporate sponsors. A a result, SHI benefits from expanded volunteerism for their cause in Second Life, while also gaining from the corporate fundraising in real life.


  • Counseling and Support Services

o One of the original Nonprofit Commons (NOC) tenants, Preferred Family Healthcare, seeks to provide information about substance abuse, addiction, and mental health issues. During September 2009, Preferred Family Healthcare sponsored activities to promote National Substance Abuse Recovery Month to promote awareness of recovery from substance abuse and support those who have made the choice to become sober. Another goal of their Second Life work is to promote awareness of self-help groups, such as Twelve Steps, Alcoholics Anonymous, etc. for use to aid the recovery process. Preferred Family Healthcare has donated a portion of their sim for use by groups for meetings, gathering, and social interaction for the self-help groups and community within Second Life. Individuals also have the ability to contact Preferred Family Healthcare in-world if they are looking for assistance in their real life communities, and be provided with resources in or near their home community to access real life services.
o Preferred Family Healthcare currently is working with the Missouri Foundation of Health through a grant to provide substance abuse treatment services to adolescents who are coming out of residential substance abuse treatment. This project is being provided through the Open Life Grid currently to provide the confidentiality of the clients being served. This provides a unique opportunity to use the technology of virtual worlds to aid in their treatment process.
o The Transgender Resource Center is another support services nonprofit that effectively uses the relative anonymity of avatars in Second Life to allow folks to explore identity issues and receive support in a safe space, and locate support resources in their real life area. A touching testimony of the importance of Second Life in dealing with transgender issues can be found here: http://bit.ly/2cWPIh


  • Interactivity
o Community Voice Mail, a nonprofit empowering people in crisis and transition by distributing free, personalized 24-hour voice mail access nationwide in the US built an interactive treasure hunt exhibit in Second Life which helps answer questions about the organization and the importance of its work. By creating a treasure hunt, the office inspires visitors to learn more through participation as opposed to simply reading the information on a website. As a result of this exhibit, Community Voice Mail has partnered with several other agencies around the country to provide services to the homeless and those in transition.
o Project Jason and Garden for the Missing created a “Families of missing person” experience via interactive posters of missing persons.
o Bay Area Video Coalition,a nonprofit media arts organization that provides high-quality, industry standard training in video production, video post-production, graphic arts created the "Gone Gitmo" exhibition, allowing viewers to step into the shoes of a Guantanamo Bay detainee.


  • Environmental Impact
o NetWorld noted that IBM ran a “training session for project managers using a virtual world built behind its own corporate firewall.” While IBM did not conduct a formal return-on-investment study on the exercise, it “…still found that holding the exercise in a virtual world offered important benefits. For example…it clearly saved the company money [because] it was cheaper to build a virtual auto-assembly shop for training than to replicate one in real life. And there were no airline tickets, hotel bills or meal tabs for out-of-town attendees; everyone participated from their home offices.
o Our partners at OneClimate's OneWorld Island offer just that with their third annual Virtual UN Summit on Climate Change this fall. Virtual press conferences, presentations, and video streaming of real world summit sessions into Second Life offers an alternative for people to participate virtually in the annual UN conference without the carbon cost of flying.


  • Reaching a Global audience**
o Bridges for Women, a nonprofit dedicated to providing women survivors of any form of abuse with education, training and other supportive programs which will help them break the abusive cycle, sought to use SL to promote their organization and states that a supporting reason “…to stay involved with the NPC is that we realized we need to keep current with technology in order to reach the next generation after reading the Gartner report that 80% of active Internet users will have an avatar by 2010.” They also “intend to investigate other virtual worlds and social media platforms in the near future now that SL has been so successful in terms of expanding awareness of our program.”
o Coastal Coast Energy Services, a nonprofit organization which provides energy conservation, consumer education & advocacy, home improvement says of NPC: In my case it’s a chance to listen to global events and exchange ideas with a global representation of nonprofits. I recently joined a group of three other individuals; we are creating a web based database of nonprofit organizations including the ability to search for specific qualities or goals. Allowing anyone to enter in a few key words and find a nonprofit that fits their needs, and then find out more information (a web site, a Second Life office, or if nothing else a person to contact). This is one more way they are making global links between nonprofits, creating a global support community, so that we can support our communities with good works.


For more about NPC See: