Scary New Worlds
A few years ago, I jumped into the virtual world known as Second Life. I created an avatar that was much thinner, much prettier and decidedly more exotic than I am (she looked a lot more like Angelina Jolie than she did me), and I gave her a cool name. The fact that I don’t remember what it was should tell you where this is heading.
When I finished the creation stage — voila! — there was Margelina (we’ll call her, in retrospect), tall and beautiful, and standing completely naked in this weird, other-wordly place that was rather dark and just a little menacing. I tried to make her move. I tried to make her interact. I tried, at the very least, to get some clothes on her. But it was a no-go. No matter what I did, she just stood there with her back to me. She would occasionally wriggle or turn slightly from side to side. And, once, she did a quick, complete revolution that was so creepy I expected her head to start spinning independently of her body and spew pea soup. I got her walking, but she hit a wall and, well, that was that.
Slowly I began to realize that Margelina, in all her nubile glory, was not alone in her new world. The Almighty Creation Process in Second Life doesn’t birth its new beings into a warm and cozy bullpen where they can safely ramp up their virtual socialization skills. No, it plops them into downtown SL — at least it did with Margelina — where other avatars eventually discover them. In our case, those others weren’t so nice to the new, naked stranger in town. They bumped into her (she couldn’t figure out how to move out of their way), they yelled at her, and one, I think, flipped her the virtual bird.
That was enough to send me sprinting back to the nicely self-contained world of The Sims, where my people do what I tell them and their biggest concern is swimming themselves to death because I forgot to add steps to the pool I made them dive into.
The point here is that new technologies can be exciting. And fun. And, in the case of nonprofit fundraising, lucrative (possibly … eventually). But like Margelina and I discovered, they also can add a level of anxiety and fear to your life that you didn’t expect and might figure you simply don’t need on top of everything else on your plate.
But don’t be like me and give up. (As far as I know, Margelina is still standing there naked while strangers flick virtual spitballs into her hair and cyber dogs pee on her ankles). There are, literally, whole new worlds out there — e-mail, Internet, SMS, etc. With each come new opportunities to connect with donors and other supporters. With each come new tactics to tuck into your fundraising toolkit. And with each come new facets to the seamlessly integrated approach to fundraising that you need to be taking from here on out. So get out there, and give it a try. Keep your clothes on and your head on straight, and you should be OK.
THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS
is senior vice president, business development, at Denver-based mobile application service provider and cause-marketing agency Mobile Accord .
is the annual giving coordinator at Beta Center in Orlando, Fla.
is vice president of marketing at Network for Good, a nonprofit organization that helps other nonprofits raise money online. www.networkforgood.org .
is creative director at Lanham, Md.-based database marketing agency Merkle.
Sarah Durham and Farra Trompeter
are founder/principal and vice president of client relationships and strategy, respectively, at New York-based consultancy Big Duck.
is the associate editor at FundRaising Success sister publication Inside Direct Mail.
is the associate senior editor at FundRaising Success. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org .