Weekly Update from NPC: August 17, 2010

Weekly Update from the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life

Events this week: 8:30AM Friday meeting at the Plush Nonprofit Commons Amphitheatre http://bit.ly/nonprofitcommons will give you a direct teleport to our main gathering area!

August 19th at 11AM: WEBINAR TechSoup for Faith-Based Organizations http://bit.ly/tsfaith

Last week at the NPC: Steven Toussaint is our newest resident on Health Commons with the new Alzheimers Association of NYC: Visit their site at http://www.alz.org/nyc/ or check out their new hilltop office on Health Commons!

In Kenzo and Ninlil Xentiltat (Evonne and Layal) gave a detailed Flickr tutorial on how to use the #NPSL tag on uploaded photos along with how to create groups, sets, printed goods, badges for your website and inworld Flickr applications.

Ninlil shared progress on the Community Gateway that will be installed soon on Aloft Nonprofit Commons with the help of Parhelion Parou and Brena Benoir, thank you all for your ideas and contributions.

A special note that the new NPChelp@nonprofitcommons.org alias is now operational for SL-related mentor questions, there are also 6 mailboxes on the four NPC sims that will allow you to drop a request directly to our mentors.

Glitteractica Cookie will be away for the next two weeks but Kali, InK, Ninlil and Penguin will be around to assist any tenants by emailing nonprofitcommons@techsoup.org

Classes: August 20th at 3PM with Builders Brewery: 3:00 PM SLT SCRIPTING: Reading Notecards: The Truth Game Instructor: Auryn Beorn Builders Brewery, Dockside I’m sure that, at least once in your life, you all have played “truth or dare”. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were able of setting an object for playing the first part, “truth”, with our friends? Wouldn’t it be nice, too, if we could learn the basics of working with notecards at the same time?

In case you missed:
Boost your fundraising: On August 17 and 18, get GrantStation for only $99. Identify private and government grantmakers with GrantStation’s online database and use the tutorials to secure funding. Already have a GrantStation membership? Add another year during this two-day offer. http://www.techsoup.org/stock/promo/?cg=sp Have more questions about GrantStation? Post them here: http://bit.ly/gstation

Thank you for your contributions to the Nonprofit Commons! For questions contact nonprofitcommons@techsoup.org for fastest response.

Written by: InKenzo

Extra, Extra!: Ben Rigby talks micro-volunteering and community

Written by guest blogger, MeiMei Fox, @meimeifox and cross-posted to TechSoup blog.




Ben Rigby of the Extraordinaries spoke at the SF Online Community MeetUp and got the conversation rolling on micro-volunteering and building mobile communities.

Update: Ben Rigby’s presentation on SlideShare.

The Opportunity: Why don’t people volunteer?

They don’t have time. Or so we say. Yet we play hundreds of hours of solitaire. We watch 1 billion YouTube videos and spend 270 million hours on Facebook every day. With that time, we could build 40 Empire State Buildings every year. So we have spare time. We have instant internet access thanks to smart phones, and even in the developing world people have mobile phones. And surveys show that we want to help – so there is a desire.

The Solution: Micro-volunteering!

You can volunteer in minute moments, like when you’re standing in line at the post office- you don’t need to go anywhere. You can do it from your mobile phone- you don’t even need to be on a computer or have internet access. Obama raised $500 million, $80 at a time through crowdsourcing micro-donations. The Extraordinaries is doing the same thing for volunteering.

Here are a few examples:

Google image labeler is a technology where you see an image, and you write tags describing what you see. That meta-data makes the image accessible to search engines. So the Extraordinaries built an app whereby, as a volunteer, you could scroll through images and tag them for non-profits like the Smithsonian, which has archives of millions of photos that are untagged and therefore unsearchable.

One day after the Jan 12 earthquake in Haiti, the Extraordinaries turned this technology into a way to find missing persons. They brought images in from news agencies, then put together a survey asking their volunteers to identify what they saw: “Can you see a person in this photo? Age? Gender? Buildings nearby?” People would add meta-data to the photos, and the Extraordinaries created a search engine that allowed you to narrow down images from the news based on this info. You could type in, for example “young, female, pink shirt” and it would narrow down thousands of images to 50 photos. Then they pulled the missing persons feed from Google’s database, and had volunteers sift through one-by-one: Do you see the missing person in the photo on the right in this photo on the left? They found 24 missing persons in this way!

Another example of an Extraordinaries app was when they asked micro-volunteers to find defibrillators, take a picture, and tag them with mapping software. This generated a map of defibrillators everywhere, which is vital because emergency responders only have ten minutes to get to a defibrillator before a person dies from a heart attach.

The Extraordinaries is a for-profit company, in that it wants to generate enough revenue to be self-sustaining. Its original funding came from angel investors, and grants they won from Netsquared and the Knight Foundation. They tried selling their micro-volunteering services to non-profits, but it didn’t work—the non-profits all said no. So now the Extraordinaries offer their services to non-profits free of charge. But they’re selling their services to corporations. 92% of Fortune 500 companies have volunteering efforts, and The Extraordinaries allows them to add an online component to their existing programs.

Unlike VolunteerMatch or Idealist, the Extraodrinaries operates on a networked model. The key is many people doing many, small bits of work that add up to task completion.

The main problem the Extraordinaires is having at the moment is attrition. People register—the iPhone app has over 40,000 downloads—but then they get bored after four days and stop volunteering. So the company’s top priority is to figure out how to build community in order to keep people engaged. How can the Extraordinaries make micro-volunteering as exciting and fun as Farmville?

They know that people don’t like interacting in a vacuum. At first, people had no way of knowing who else was volunteering or, even more importantly, of sharing what they were accomplishing. So now the Extraordinaries has started to add community features, such as being able to Like a piece of advice that someone gives to a non-profit, or being able to share how many hours you’ve volunteered with your friends/team members. But they’re still looking for solutions to this issue – so please share your ideas with BeExtra.org!

Written by: penguin kuhn

Introducing “TraumaAdoption.org”

I am a Dad.

I became a father about three and a half years ago by adopting a little girl in my immediate community that needed a mom and a dad. My wife and I had looked at adopting internationally but ultimately decided that there was so much need in our own backyard that we would grow our family through social services. My wife and I started out as foster parents and ultimately segued into finalising.

Being engaged in the that community and gaining so much from it, my wife and I began to think it would be a good idea to give back to it. There are few online resources that are dedicated to supporting parents of children who were in the foster system. About a week ago we acquired traumaadoption.org, com, and net with the intent of cobbling together a site rather quickly. In comes Drupal.

Using Drupal core, contributed modules, and a contributed theme, my wife and I (in the evenings) put the site together in about a week. One of our goals was to get the site ready for November 1 because November is National Adoption Awareness Month in the United States.

The site is a simple concept. It provides:

  1. Forums for discussion on Adoption Issues relating to adopting older kids
  2. Listings of books that are helpful in raising kids who were adopted at an older age
  3. Listings of resources that might be helpful
  4. Blogs
  5. And ultimately there will be a listing of adoption services

The goal of the site is simple–A Virtual Support Group for parents to share a common experience in dealing with the adoption of traumatized kids.

If you are the parent of a child adopted a little later in life. If you are the parent of a kid who you adopted from social services. If your kid was traumatized before he or she came into your life, If you are a parent looking for other parents with similar experiences-TraumaAdoption.org may provide you with sounding board and a support system.

Over next weeks and months we will continue to work on the site improving its functionality and usability. My hope is that it becomes a dynamic and vibrant community.

Written by: Creech

NPC Community Member Profiles

Khrys Kanto/Her StartupMy name is Khrys Kanto and I assist Zazoom Zimminy with volunteer coordination. Part of this includes introducing new members to the NPC community. To keep things simple, I’ve created a community profile sheet that can be downloaded here.

The profile is for new and existing members. For new members, it will serve as your introduction to the community. Existing members – please feel free to complete if you would like to update your current profile with new information. Completed profiles can be returned to me via the email listed on the form along with both your SL and RL photos.

Written by: khrys

Interview with Kyle Reis/Zazoom Zimminy

1.  Your rl/sl name and affiliation:
Kyle Reis/Zazoom Zimminy, Board Co-Chair of the Grants Managers Network (GMN) and Assistant Manager, Program Staff Development at the Ford Foundation

2.  How did you get involved in the NP Commons?  Why?
I think I heard about it through the Technology Affinity Group.  GMN was (and still is) looking for a replacement for its online knowledge community and this seemed like one possibility.  Once I learnt about NPC and got involved, I was hooked.  It is such a great community and the possibilities for the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors are numerous.

3.   Is your work here in Second Life as an individual or are you representing the foundation?
I’m principally representing the GMN as we are on the waiting list for an office, though I’m interested as an individual and as a representative of my foundation as well.  I’m curious on behalf of my foundation because I think there are many practical applications for our foundation and for the philanthropic sector generally in SL. 
4.   Some people say that the networking opportunities – professional networking opportunities here in SL have been extraordinary.  Do you think so? If so, what advice would you give for effective professional networking in SL
The networking has been great, in large part because the Nonprofit Commons (NPC) has attracted such a great community.  But I would spin the networking aspect a bit differently in that I’ve principally met people I would normally never have met were it not for bumping into them (sometimes literally) in NPC.  The power of this type of networking is that it is has exposed me to people, ideas and communities that differ from the ones I’m normally exposed to, and this has allowed me to think about my work differently and to integrate these unique perspectives into my work for both Ford and GMN.  To use a relevant example, Dick Dillon (Coughran Mayo), recently shared with me a chapter of a book by Lynda Gratton called Hot Spots which addresses just this topic.  It says, and I quote: “Innovative value is created through novel combinations of the ideas, knowledge, and insights of people [and when] people exploit their shared expertise within their group or explore ideas, knowledge, and insights with people outside their group.”  The greatest ideas often emerge when a person reaches across the disciplinary spectrum and sees possibilities that she could or would never have seen had she not crossed the proverbial aisle.

5.   Why do you think virtual worlds like Second Life are valuable for nonprofits?
Probably the biggest value is with respect to communications.  SL enables people from all over the world to convene in an environment that breaks down the fourth wall, which in this case is the enabling technology itself.  Videoconferencing, for instance, has come a long way but everyone is ‘aware’ of the TV screens or the phones being used to bring people together.  A colleague, for instance, recently commented how she hates teleconferences because everyone in the room stares at the phone during the call.  By contrast, in SL, once you settle in, you really feel as if you are in the room with folks-even when they are “dressed” as pink cats, have wings and white mohawks, or are donning psychedelic sunglasses. The intimacy of the platform is uncanny (which is probably why so much “other” activity is going on in SL as well.)

6.   Do you think that every nonprofit should have a presence on SL or is it only appropriate for particular types of nonprofits? 
At this point I don’t.  The learning curve is too steep and the format is too unstable and the proof that it’s worth the effort is still being proved.  If the technical obstacles can be addressed (and I think they will be in due time), then I think most nonprofits and foundations will establish a virtual world presence.  I think the “should” will disappear from the equation altogether.  The only nonprofits that it won’t be appropriate for will be the ones that don’t now have a website.  I don’t know if the final landing point will be in SL or somewhere else, but right now I would put my bet on SL for the nonprofit sector at least.  The for profit sector will probably end up somewhere else like There.com or “Virtual Google” (my coinage).  I liken the split to the PC vs. Mac dichotomy, where SL is the Apple that gets the 10-15% share of the market and pulls in all the creatives and academics.
Having said that, it’s certainly clear that there are some communities for whom it is critical to establish a presence sooner rather than later.  Nonprofits working with far flung communities that need to communicate regularly (to enable a more organic and carbon-footprint-friendly platform for communication), nonprofits working with people with disabilities (to enable interaction with others in a way that might not otherwise be possible), nonprofits working with distance education (to enable richer, more tactile interaction with students), and nonprofits in the arts (to enable folks to virtually create, manipulate and hang out in worlds they would otherwise not be able to).  However, the mantra that must guide all nonprofits working in SL (with perhaps the exception of arts) is: “In service to real life”.  SL can certainly be a means of withdrawing from the real world, but people who look at SL and summarily arrive at this conclusion are, I believe, doing themselves a disservice.

7.   You’re fairly new to SL and there is a learning curve, what advice would you give to make that learning curve easier?
1. Go about naming your avatar as you would go about naming your kids
2. Rely on the kindness of strange avatars
3. Don’t give up if you fall in the pool
4. Think of your engagement as like reaching for the gold ring on the Merry-Go-Round:  There is treasure to be found if you just keep at it.


Written by: kanter