Purpose & Rationale for Non Profits in Second Life

Click here to view Nonprofit Commons in Numbers

New! Nonprofits in Second Life: Promoting Causes Inside Second Life for Real World Impact

A one page informational summary of the Nonprofit Commons:

external image pdf.png Non Profits and Second Life Report 1008.pdf (October 2008 Report)

Read the above report to get up-to-date information on the benefits and impact of nonprofits in Second Life as well as the challenges and opportunities for nonprofits in this new virtual medium. The report was written by Sandra Bettger (Anika Pastorelli), Executive Director of the Giving Circles Network, Member/Resident of Nonprofit Commons. Special thanks go to the twelve (12) NPC nonprofits that participated in the interviews*, which formed the basis of this study, to the reviewers (Susan Tenby, Megan Keane, Dick Dillon of Preferred Family Healthcare and Brad Lewis of Great Strides), and volunteers who provided additional technical insight and feedback (Ronnie Rhode, Skeeboo Tammas, Parhelion Palou, and Mercedes Ochs).

* Bridges for Women, Community Voicemail, Contact a Family, Giving Circles Network, Great Strides, Kiva.org, Ophoenix, Preferred Family Healthcare, Project Jason & Garden for the Missing, Sustainable Harvest International, Uptown Shelter, and Virtual Ability, Inc.

Below are links to:

About the importance of our purpose in Second Life:
As representatives of nonprofit organizations in Second Life, we often get asked to justify the expense and time spent building and maintaining a presence in a virtual world. Sometimes we just KNOW it's a good idea to be here, but we need to articulate why it is worthwhile and demonstrate to our donors and the public who need more explanation what kind of results or impact that we are having both inside SL and from SL in the real world (IRL). This page is a collection of our best reasons and support for building a virtual world presence in general, and Second Life in particular. Along with the report and congressional testimony above, everyone is invited to share their stories, ideas, thoughts, etc. or to ask questions and get feedback.

Also, we welcome you to participate in ongoing research about the impact of Non Profits (in NPC and elsewhere in SL) and of SL Groups and shared givers via 1) **//**survey**//** and/or direct interview. Email GCN or IM: Anika Pastorelli.

Please jump right in.....why do YOU think it's a good idea for a nonprofit organization to have a presence in Second Life/Virtual Worlds? Why are you here?

Purpose or Goals: Why Are You In SL?

  • Giving Circles Network (Anika Pastorelli): We are here to: 1) network with Non Profits globally as GCN seeks to support donors (Giving Circles and shared givers) that fund NPs; 2) learn about and exchange information on global, national, regional and local causes, issues and resources; 3) leverage the virtual tools and technologies to broaden our network and scope, including to provide a forum for Giving Circles to network inside SL for RL impact; and 4) position/prepare our organization (we expect virtual social networking/change, learning and commerce - for business, NPs and government - to be the wave of the future).
  • Bridges For Women (Source: Bridges Virtual Reality Proposal - June 2007): Outlines the purpose of BFW which is to 1) Use SL virtual reality space to promote BWS, their on-line program, program startup manual, and community resource guide; and 2) investigate the potential for delivering a virtual Bridges Program in the future.
  • The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare's primary goal in Second Life is to help our members build community using social networking technology. The word "Community" in our organization's name refers to a concept John Kennedy famously promoted with the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963 - turning back over a hundred years of malaise since President Pierce vetoed a bill proposed by Dorothea Dix in 1854. However, to build community you need to have a community and our members desperately need ways to connect and network, while facing severe cuts in funding. My father-in-law, who learned about life in a harness makers shop, but then went on the help put Niel Armstrong on the moon remembers well - Build Community


Results or Impact Achieved: Examples (Note qualitative, quantitative and/or anecdoctal impact)

1. Fundraising

2. Non Profit Event Results

  • Non Profit Commons 2 (Aloft): Non Profit Commons successfully held its **Grand Opening on May 28th, 2008**. Read about the event which had an estimated 500 avatars who attended, with up to 75 at any one time. It was a full day event, including a Mixed Reality event with Net Squared in the morning and musical events and activities the remainder of the day. The event raised funds for the community and the musicians, but more significantly promoted the new presence of the second NPC sim, the 44 Non Profits that are part of the Aloft island community (as well as the almost 80 NPs that are part of the overall NPC community), and their missions and causes.
  • ****Ophoenix****: Ophoenix held a mixed reality event on May 17, 2008, which a Second Life "Fun Raiser" Dance" and a Wine Tasting Fundraiser in real life in Los Altos, CA. The mixed reality event raised approximately $5000 for Ophoenix. While the inworld portion raised US$120, it still amounted to $31,800 Lindens, which is significant currency in in-world terms.
  • Bridges for Women: Upcoming SkyDancers' Performances to Benefit Non-profits, SLNN.com, by Cicero Kit (March 22, 2008) - This event that took place inside SL on March 30th was an outstanding 3D performance of an SL group known as "SkyDancers". The event had limited seating due to the 3D nature and to avoid lag (and hence maximum visual enjoyment), but drew 18 participants who together donated more than $40,000 Lindens to the Bridges for Women non profit located in NPC2 (Aloft).
  • American Cancer Society (NP in SL, but not NPC Resident): **American Cancer Society Raises Nearly $115,000 during Virtual Relay for Life in Second Life**. Atlanta 2007/08/02 - "The American Cancer Society...announced that its ...Relay For Life® event [held July 28 and 29, 2008] in the Second Life virtual world raised nearly $115,000 (or $32 million Linden dollars, the official Second Life currency) to support cancer research and programs. This year’s tally eclipsed the goal of raising $75,000 set earlier this year by volunteer organizers." The article explains that "With support provided by the Society’s Futuring and Innovation Center...this year’s event...drew nearly 1,700 global participants (represented by avatars) willing to fight cancer by donating money and walking on a custom-built virtual track."
  • Drive By Agony/Life Learning Programs: Womens' Health Fair/Expo (November 7, 2007), Oleandor Island - Second Life: This event sought to educate women on the health issues that concern them in their everyday lives, share ideas, and talk to professionals in the field. In addition, the health fair helped raise linden dollars for the organization, Drive By Agony/Life Learning programs, a non-profit organization that helps victims of crime.

4. Promoting Causes

Many Non Profits are finding success promoting their causes, connecting with and serving beneficiaries, and creating community for education and other purposes inside Second Life. Here is but one example with Project Jason:

Project Jason Announces Presence in Virtual World « on: May 27, 2008, 08:57:27 PM »

5. Other Impact/Results

  • Giving Circles Network (Anika Pastorelli): We have been donated free office space as well as significant building and scripting services from community technical experts and volunteers to establish our virtual office (viewed as an extension of our internet site at www.givingcircles.org), in which we have already had 124 visitors (even before the launch of NPC 2), several from throughout the world (Japan, Australia and other countries). We participate weekly in the NPC community meetings, network extensively via events, have learned first-hand about the benefits of SL for persons with disabilities, observed fundraising successes from inside SL for real life causes (e.g., Relay for Life), participated in fundraising events (such as attending the SkyDancers show in support of Bridges for Women), and even received free guidance inside SL on fundraising (for our own NP) from an expert in the field. We are also conducting a survey of the impact of NPs in SL and from SL on RL, the results of which we will post here when it is available.

General Feedback on Positive Experience

  • Giving Circles Network (Anika Pastorelli): This is a great community, on both professional and experiential levels. The leaders, residents and volunteers have made NPC into an engaging and educational environment in which collaborative efforts towards positive social change can and are taking place. Looking forward to the launch!

Future Events that Seek Impact and/or Fundraise (Add info on your event here!):

  • Stay Tuned!


Non Profits and Second Life Report, Oct. 2008, Prepared by Sandra Bettger

The American Cancers Society continues to innovate in Second Life, by Zeina Zehetbauer, November 07, 2007

Best Practices for Non-profits in Second Life, Fall 2007, Prepared by Rik Panganiban. The second in Global Kids series on Virtual Worlds, Fall 2007, Supported by the John D. and Catherin T. MacArthur Foundation.

Study on the User Acceptance of Virtual Worlds , in Second Life Research, June 4, 2007.