Looking Back & Looking Forward

As we tip forward into a new year and #TSDIGS Digital Storytelling Event it’s a great time to celebrate what’s working in our virtual community, learn a few lessons and set intention for the coming year together. What were some of the highlights of our time together at NPC this past year?

1.Preferred Family Healthcare receives a grant for $865,000 for virtual addiction therapy services and PopSci features Coughran and Brena this month. Lesson learned: dream big and have metrics to back yourself up!

2.Virtual Haiti Relief teams raise thousands through virtual events in partnership with NPC and other charitable avatars. Lesson: build partnerships early, before disaster strikes, so you’re ready to leap into action together.

3.TechSoup trainings, webinars and events draw thousands of nonprofit leaders to learn about new platforms, tools and opportunities to grow. Lesson: keep providing easy opportunities to learn new tools and the community grows in appreciation.

4.NPCGames, a special working group for nonprofits interested in developing games, grew to include dozens of specialists working across sectors to grow causebuilding options for play. Lesson: Nonprofit leaders can be gamers too and we need both mindsets to develop meaningful play experiences.

5.GreenTech initiatives take hold in many organizations, reducing energy and resource costs while encouraging use of cloud and virtual platforms as an alternative to travel. Lesson: promoting efficient virtual teamwork helps reduce operation cost for some nonprofits.

6.Stories of Impact machinima videos joined our YouTube page featuring some of the best NPC leaders in action. Lesson: Telling stories through interactive media helps our community grow outside of the virtual world.

7.After four years of @techsoup weekly Friday meetings in Second Life we maxed out our sim with 99 guests to hear Lindens talk about bringing teens and adults together in the new mixed grid. Lesson: never underestimate how many people will appear when the right guest shows up!

Looking forward, how can we take our best assets and build stronger virtual communities for nonprofits?

1.Integrating youth and adults in one virtual place will allow for many new educational and volunteer opportunities along with a potential infusion of young energy

2.ReactionGrid, OSGrid and various open sims are available at low cost to nonprofits, making it accessible for organizations to own their own servers or create larger simulation experiences

3.Building bridges between worlds, hypergrid tours and cross-sector partnerships will be even more important as we connect beyond Nonprofit Commons in Second Life

4.Educational experiences, museums and nonprofits that create immersion experiences in virtual space will find participation growing, especially as user content is featured in galleries and exhibition halls around the world

5.Embracing young, saavy programmers who are excited to help their favorite causes will be the tipping point for many organizations looking to grow and try new endeavors

6.Invite more gamechangers and respected leaders from various sectors to help us open new doors, dream big and make new connections across the grids

7.Playfulness and fun storytelling elements connect people over time and grow a sticky network of engaged leaders. Be intentional about designing play that offers various ways to plug in and random people will find you and get involved!

So on this 1/11/11 it is our hope as the avatars of Nonprofit Commons that you are taking time to do something new, build a bridge and be the best you can be. Never settle for the status quo when you can be extraordinary – every avatar at NPC embodies this in some way and together we create a community that is unique in its resilience, a pillar in the ever-shifting 3D web world. Being that pillar requires all of us to live out the commitments we’ve made to our people, to volunteerism within NPC and to continually reach out beyond ourselves and represent alteratives to the rigidness of our real world. Each of us has learned to craft our own experience, choose our own adventure and share some piece of that through photos, machinima, blogs and tweets. Keep sharing and remember that we create this experience every day together and we choose how to make the most of it!

Special thanks to the leaders at Nonprofit Commons for their hard work along with Rik Riel, Rhiannon Chatnoir and Pathfinder for their amazing blog writing looking ahead to 2011 in virtual engagement.

Written by: InKenzo

Weekly Update: September 7th at NPC

Events this week

8:30AM Friday meeting at the Plush Nonprofit Commons Amphitheater
Join us this FRIDAY AM for fun sharing on the web and with heat maps as we connect great organizations at http://bit.ly/nonprofitcommons

Last week at the NPC:
Nonprofit Commons

Laura24 Kiranov (Laura Jones at HorseNet Horse Rescue in Mt. Airy, MD) shared with us her horse adoption program based between Baltimore and Washington, DC. Laura is a valuable addition to the NPC and HorseNet is featured now on EcoCommons and on the web at http://www.hnhr.org/

MacZ Urbanwicz (Mackenzie Glander) shared her work with Global Plan-It, a nonprofit bridging gaps in Mali where Mackenzie grew up. MacZ has been helping build out a number of spaces on the Nonprofit Commons islands behind the scenes. Find out more about their work at http://globalplanit.org/AboutUs.html

Megan, Susan, Evonne and Jessica spoke last week at CALCASA’s National Sexual Assault Conference in Hollywood. Megan’s blog post including video testimonials and Slideshare presentations on Listening Online and Multimedia campaigns can be found at http://blog.techsoup.org/node/1434

Layal shared great video tutorials for working on the wiki: http://bit.ly/NPSLWikiTutorial and http://bit.ly/WikiHowTo

LilTank Thibedeau is gathering people interested in World Aids Day events inworld, first meeting was this weekend.

ShaunG Lynch is teaching a graduate course in fundraising at McGill University in Montreal and he has 7 student groups looking for organizations to work with, please IM him for details.

RevCheryl is presenting at http://SL.CounselorEducation.org/: Sessions will occur at CESL in Second Life (SLURL Marina Del Rey 102, 70, 27). RevCheryl speaks on Sept 16 at 11am EDT.

HB Eternal announced launch of weekly meditations each Sunday at 10am SLT: The Love Foundation is located on Plush NPC.

Note the FACT Social Justice Challenge below is open through October 4th.

Reminder: Submit your Projects to the FACT Social Justice Challenge at NetSquared

The French American Charitable Trust (FACT) and NetSquared are pleased to announce the second annual FACT Social Justice Awards. Submissions are now open for your innovative Projects that leverage web and/or mobile technologies to foster collaboration around social justice issues. Learn more about the Challenge and how to participate here: http://netsquared.org/challenges/fact-social-justice-2010

TechSoup Talks! Webinars will resume September 21 and 30.

An Easy Inworld Tip:
If you need help inworld click on a mailbox to send a one line message to NPCHelp@techsoup.org, our mentors helpdesk – or just drop us a line anytime.

Every week inworld we share these links to our community sites:

Nonprofit Commons blog: http://www.nonprofitcommons.org/

Wiki: http://npsl.wikispaces.com/

Twitter: @npsl http://www.twitter.com/npsl

Google Group: http://groups.google.com/group/TechSoup-Second-Life

TechSoup: http://www.techsoup.org/tools/howtousetechsoup/

Here are more ways to get involved with Nonprofit Commons in Second Life:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nonprofitcommons

LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/NonprofitCommons

Weekly Networking Event: Wharf Ratz, Aloft every Tuesday 8PM SLT http://slurl.com/secondlife/Aloft%20Nonprofit%20Commons/162/236/25

Monthly Networking Event: The first Thurs. of every month, at Common Ground, Plush, 5 -7PM SLT http://slurl.com/secondlife/Plush%20Nonprofit%20Commons/128/220/26

Avatars United: http://www.avatarsunited.com/groups/nonprofitcom

Thank you for your contributions to the Nonprofit Commons! Stay in touch: nonprofitcommons@techsoup.org

Written by: InKenzo

Haiti Relief in Second Life: A View from the Nonprofit Commons Collaboration

The Virtual Haiti Relief campaign in Second Life has become a fascinating experiment in engagement here for us at Nonprofit Commons — I hope we can learn from this endeavor for future work. Over a dozen avatars actively shared their skills by creating interactive experiences, events, fundraisers and outreach campaigns to help raise support for the people of Haiti over 6 weeks this winter. Many hundreds of avatars visited campaign spaces, from the Benefit Music Festival to the Help Haiti Hub aid distribution center.

Haiti Benefit Festival at Nonprofit Commons

This campaign took off when Rhiannon Chatnoir and the Virtual Haiti Relief group was able to take the scripted code from the Relay for Life kiosks and create a specialized Haiti relief kiosk that was spread throughout Second Life. Let’s look at the fundraising numbers and rank of monies raised by this community on our four sims:
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2) Health Commons $760 or L$197619
24) Plush Nonprofit Commons $83 or L$21440
28) Aloft Nonprofit Commons $68 or L$17541
72) ECO Commons $16 or L$3910

Total raised from NPC: L$240,510 or nearly $1,000USD (thanks to all of you for contributing!). This campaign as a whole raised L$2,000,000 or over $7,200USD. Together the Nonprofit Commons sims raised more than any other single group working in Second Life.

Much of the money raised was passive — beyond the organized music and arts festival events there were many thousands that came in just by making the means of donation available in public spaces around the sims. There are also over 40 musical acts that donated their time to come play for the festival on Aloft Nonprofit Commons, including LabGraal that packed the sim on a Saturday afternoon.

LabGraal

Lessons Learned:

* Events are essential! Most of our visitors and new guests came for the music festival (hundreds over the course of one weekend)
* Advertising is helpful: It helps to have friends on other sims who will get the word out for us
* Music & Entertainment draws crowds better than most other activities, especially if the band has a following
* It helps to make simple agreements quickly with one organization vs. longer route with foundations/coalition-building
* Offer content that informs as well as entertains — many guests appreciated our speakers and detailed information on how to get more involved in grassroots efforts

Special thanks to those here who supported these events/efforts including Rhiannon for building the kiosks and festival stage, Katydid Something for organizing the music festival, Mia Kitchensink, Brena Benoir, Ninlil Xentiltat & many others here at NPC for building various elements on our sims…thank you for your efforts to make this possible. The Help Haiti Hub will continue to exist for some time to allow us to process how aid and information flows across these spaces.

Dancing at the festival

We are finding that what works inworld connects closely to what works on the ground in Haiti:

HuffingtonPost article on Haitian Solidarity and Giving by Beverly Bell

From this HuffPo article:
“In the meantime, what saved many during the earthquake, and what is keeping them alive today, is a culture and economy of solidarity, or mutual aid. Solidarity is an essential strategy through which on-the-margins communities, and their individual members, can survive and thrive. Today the generosity is on overdrive.”

“Gifting and solidarity are time-honored traditions in Haiti, as around the world. The non-monetary transactions of services, care, and goods are both spontaneous and organized. They honor human relationships and attention to the well-being of the whole, not just oneself. They minimize the role of profit in economic and social relations, and thus keep respect, cooperation, and ethics thriving.”

Haiti Benefit Festival at Nonprofit Commons

We learned a lot by bringing in speakers from Ushahidi, Partners for Others, Sustainable Haiti and many other organizations working with the people on the ground to rebuild and renew.

In the spirit of giving, there are a few organizations where you can be more directly involved:
http://www.sustainablehaiti.org
http://www.crisiscommons.org
http://www.ushahidi.org

Following Ushahidi will show you up to date reports of where issues are noticed and addressed. There are many creative groups solving issues around rebuilding, permaculture and food security, water purification and medical care in remote areas. There’s a long way to go and volunteers will also be welcomed by many groups if you are interested in traveling directly to the region to help rebuild this country.

Help Haiti Hub

We are learning that there’s a lot we can do remotely to help, from fundraising to connecting organizations who are doing good work to collaborate in times of great need. Please share the lessons you have learned here so that we can begin to build better campaigns together at NPC.

Written by: InKenzo