Get a (Second) Life!
It’s also a great place to network, says Jessica Dally, help desk technician for the Seattle-based Community Voice Mail, which provides free, 24-hour nationwide voice mail to people in crisis.
“It’s another way to get our word out to other agencies,” Dally says, adding that although CVM didn’t set out to use SL to fundraise, sometimes the networking results in donations.
“Someone who saw us in Second Life realized what we do, got interested enough, and visited our Web site and made a donation,” she says.
Among the nonprofits with a SL presence, perhaps the most successful in terms of fundraising is the American Cancer Society. Over the last four years, ACS has raised more than $275,000 from its virtual Relay For Life events, according to Randal Moss, director of ACS’ Futuring and Innovation Center. Donations have steadily increased — from $5,000 the first year to $111,000 (as of June 11), and the virtual walkathon for 2008 isn’t until July 20. The society also has raised $4,000 for its virtual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign.
Moss says ACS also uses SL to educate and engage the community, hosting virtual meetings for cancer survivors where up to 30 avatars attend twice a week.
“It is a nonprofit’s responsibility to try and have a presence here,” Moss says. “For some segments of the population, SL is their real world, and this is your only way to reach them.”
He adds that nonprofits really don’t lose anything by tapping into virtual environments.
“It’s cost-neutral,” Moss says. “It’s important for people to explore these communities and engage.”
Tips to try
TechSoup’s Tenby offers these tips for nonprofits interested in journeying into SL and other virtual worlds.
1. Don’t register with the goal of raising money right off the bat. Get to know the world — and the people who populate it — first. “Be mindful of the belligerent learning curve,” she warns.
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