Panel speaks about alliance building in Second Life

Nonprofits are finding that one of the major benefits of Second Life work is alliance building. I had the pleasure of attending Monday’s panel on virtual world partnerships and collaborations. Moderated by Glitteractica Cookie of the Nonprofit Commons, the panelists included Gentle Heron and Eme Capalini of Virtual Ability, Buffy Beale and Ozma Malibu of the Transitions Project and Peterpan Slade of OneWorld island and soon to be EcoCommons.The panel was part of “Real World Impacts from the Virtual World”, an afternoon of events giving a sneak preview of MacArthur Foundation’s new island in Second Life and was sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the USC Network Culture Project and Global Kids.

Buffy Beale and Ozma Malibu discussed how their partnership of five core groups (Bridges for Women, Floaters, Amoration, the Vesuvius Group, and Community Voicemail) came together to begin working on the Transitions project. These five groups had been attending the Nonprofit Commons Friday meetings for some time, and had grown to know each other, Ozma explained. “We met one day to discuss issues of technology access for homeless and other displaced people. The first time the five of us met as a small group, our ideas flowed like water and we saw that we each had a piece of a larger puzzle.” It was at this first meeting that the Transitions Project was born.

The Transitions project is using a number of social networking tools in addition to Second Life, including Twitter, Facebook, Google applications, and are looking into online worlds such as Lively and Sakai that could have specific uses within the full Transitions program. They are starting to layer these tools with the goal of having all of these tech tools eventually available in Second Life to help further their mission of extending access to opportunities and technology to those in transition. Second Life has allowed them to connect with other like-minded groups and sharing information and resources that translate to real life impact.

Next, Gentle Heron of the Heron Sanctuary and Virtual Ability groups in Second Life spoke about collaborative efforts in the disability resource community. Gentle started off entering the online world with some friend specifically to set up a support community for people with disabilities after not finding many real world support options. She found that there were numerous disability support groups in Second Life already, but none of them focused on helping individuals venture in-world. Virtual Ability seeks to fill this niche by assisting newcomers to Second Life and providing them with additional assistive resources in Second Life.

While Virtual Ability started off as Second Life group, it has spurred all kinds of connections with other disability communities and groups interested in improving the accessibility of Second Life for people with disabilities. The community has grown organically and as membership continues to increase, they’ve found themselves involved with additional related projects in Second Life.

Second Life was a natural fit for OneWorld, PeterSan Slade explained, as their interest lies in tackling climate change – and what better way to meet with folks across the world then “traveling by laptop” without the carbon cost of flying. OneWorld’s in-world presence is closely linked with their online social network where people can easily find one another by geographic location to see events happening around them. So far the majority of their partnershipa have come from their web presence, but they are quickly creating in-world partnerships, including one with the Nonprofit Commons! The Eco Commons will be a partnership between OneClimate island/ and the Nonprofit Commons specifically geared towards groups involved with environmental issues. This third Nonprofit Commons location is due to launch in mid-December.

PeterSan also let folks know about OneWorld’s December event with live conferencing in Second Life across four islands of the UN Summit in Poland. This event offers multiple options for participation and interaction, as there will be participants at the real life conference, web streaming, and live conferencing in-world with both voice and text chat. While there are still technical challenges of real-time communication between the two worlds, OneWorld is expanding the ways that people and avatars can take get involved.

More and more in-world alliances are popping up in-world so it was interesting and informative to hear from these trailblazing groups paving the way for future alliances and positive real and virtual world impact.

You can check out the complete text chat from the panel here.

Written by: penguin kuhn

New Report! Nonprofits in Second Life: Promoting Causes Inside Second Life for Real World Impact has just published the latest study on the benefits, impact, challenges and opportunities of nonprofits in Second Life at:

Written by Anika Pastorelli (Sandy Bettger) of GCN, this report represents a collaborative effort among 12 nonprofits, TechSoup and NPC volunteers in capturing, analyzing and presenting the benefits and impact of nonprofits in a virtual world. We hope the study will help all nonprofits in SL to strengthen their rationale and strategy, promote their causes and achieve greater impact.

Below is the abstract:

Nonprofits across the globe have successfully established a virtual community in Second Life (SL) via Nonprofit Commons (NPC), a two-island community managed by TechSoup and populated with almost 80 nonprofits. While NPC is but one of 11 identified “nodes” or centers of nonprofits operating in SL, it is the largest and most prominent in SL, so it is the focus of this study. A recurring concern of nonprofit boards, members and other stakeholders is to determine the benefit of participating in a virtual community environment and the ultimate impact of that participation on their real-world missions and causes. Based on interviews with NPC nonprofit representatives, this study examines the benefits and impact of operating in just such a virtual nonprofit community. The findings are that benefits exist for nonprofits, and that the impact of participation spans more than 10 areas of relevance to nonprofit real-world missions. The results include quantitative data that ranks the relative value of different impact areas on real-life missions and that captures fundraising achievements to date as well as qualitative outcomes and anecdotal examples of impact. The author takes one step beyond the study findings and explores the challenges and future opportunities for nonprofits in SL positioning themselves with respect to technological trends and their new audience (the younger “digital” generations), cost savings and environmental benefits. These research results and future considerations provide a strong rationale for the participation of nonprofits in a virtual community.

Comments/Questions: IM Anika Pastorelli in-world or email

Written by: GCN

Promoting Causes Inside Second Life – For Real-World Impact

There is a fantastic, comprehensive report on the WIKI compiled and delivered by Anika Pastorelli (aka Sandra Bettger) called Nonprofits and Second Life: Promoting Causes Inside Second Life – For Real-World Impact.

The report details the benefits of maintaining and operating a presence within Second Life and how it breaks down into real-life organizational missions. She’s also included the challenges and future opportunities for nonprofits considering new technology and the shift of new audiences.

I personally think that this is a must-read for anyone considering a virtual presence for their nonprofit and look forward to reading it myself!

Thanks, Anika!

Written by: Beth J. Bates

Relay for Life Second Life

For the fourth consecutive year running, the American Cancer Society held their annual Relay for Life Second Life. 2008 was the most successful year yet for this virtual relay to raise funds to fight cancer.

Some stats: 2230 avatars, 85 Teams, walked 3441 virtual laps and raised over $L 55,230,056. The relay funds raised translated into over $210,000 USD to support the American Cancer Society in its mission to defeat cancer. This greatly exceeded last year’s Second Life Relay for Life that raised around $100,000 USD and is the single largest amount raised to date by a single nonprofit campaign in Second Life.

Congratulations to all the builders, promoters, fundraisers, all of the participating avatars and their supporters for making this such a great success! The success of Relay for Life Second Life not only provides benefit in the battle against cancer, but also serves as a role model for other nonprofits seeking to use Second Life to enhance and further their real-life social change work.

Written by: penguin kuhn

Why Second Life?

Today I attended the Avatar on Duty session at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership office on Aloft Nonprofit Commons. 2020Vision (Ashima Saigal) moderated the session and she was joined by several other Johnson Center staff, along with a sizeable crowd of interested avatars. We were all there to discuss a key question for those involved with working with nonprofits in Second Life: How can nonprofits find long-term sustainability in Second Life and better translate into real-world action towards achieving their missions?

The session gave us opportunity to brainstorm and discuss this topic in an open forum. One of the first issues we discussed was what nonprofits hoped to gain by having a presence in Second Life. Many avatars saw Second Life as a way to engage a wider audience and bring awareness of their organization’s work. Others mentioned the benefit of having a common meeting space and a way to network and collaborate with other nonprofits doing similar work, as well as connecting with organizations they might never have had the opportunity to meet. Jarhead Euler of Uptown Shelter gave the example of how his organization only heard about Community Voicemail through Second Life and now is meeting with several other organizations to discuss implementing this tool for their real-life work.

However, we wondered what’s advantageous about using Second Life versus other Web 2.0 tools (i.e. Facebook, instant messaging, web conferencing, etc.)? Some said they treated Second Life just like any other online community, but one that served a different purposes, reaching a different audience that though smaller creates greater affinity among its members. Others felt the 3D, immersive experience of a virtual world creates a more powerful and personal interaction. There’s definitely an added layer of fun that potentially makes it an appealing medium for users to engage. Another point raised was that Second Life reaches an early adopter audience, and can propagate experiential learning in a way that other web-based applications cannot. Virtual worlds are seen by many as being the future of the Web, which puts organizations already in Second Life ahead of the curve for future expansion into virtual worlds as they become more prevalent.

This raised the question of what audience nonprofits are trying to reach in Second Life? Although there are many newcomers interested in learning more about the platform, it’s important to keep in mind that nonprofits are not necessarily trying to bring people into Second Life, but rather, seeking to tap into an already established audience in Second Life, who is looking to find ways to use the tool for social benefit. The audience is likely to vary depending on the organization, but determining the demographics is important when it comes to thinking about approach and gaining support for funding Second Life work.

Greater interaction and connection kept commonly coming up as an argument for the value of Second Life. Yet these two aspects are challenging, if not impossible to measure, especially in comparison to the benefit of other tools. When thinking about sustainability, it’s important for nonprofits to think about pinpointing unique benefits that a virtual platform offers. Several people pointed out that Second Life can often save time and money, but so can other less technology-intensive tools. Others pointed out the ability for Second Life to be used for mixed reality events provides a unique experiential way of interaction with multiple simultaneous communication channels (text, voice, chat, video, etc.). There have been some case studies how this is beneficial to some groups, such as people with disabilities or different learning styles. What’s needed, we all seemed to agree, is more such studies and ways to document impact of Second Life work in furthering the missions of organizations.

We discussed other challenges of the virtual world, including the high learning curve. Second Life is not accessible for many with its technical requirements. Nonprofits will need to justify that in spite of such obstacles, the potential gains of Second Life are worth the time and resource investment.

Today’s discussion sparked more questions, but also got me thinking creatively about tangible ways nonprofits can articulate the “experience” of virtual worlds and the myriad of ways it can be used towards social change. While that challenge can be daunting it is exciting to think about nonprofits pioneering the virtual world for the benefit of the real one.

Written by: penguin kuhn

How Can Nonprofits Create Sustainability in Second Life

Wondering about how your nonprofit’s work in the virtual world can make real-world impact? Then be sure to check out the regular Avatar on Duty Sessions at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership office on Aloft Nonprofit Commons.

The next session, Mon. July 28th, at 10 AM PDT/SLT will focus in particular on how nonprofits can find long-term sustainability in Second Life and how to better translate this into real-world action towards achieving their missions. Join in the conversation with philanthropic advisers and community builders in Second Life.

Please send a message (IM) to 2020Vision Obviate (Real Name – Ashima Saigal) or email her at if you have any questions. Come ask your questions and they will do their best to help you to grow your organization’s mission.

You can teleport directly to come join the session.

About the Avatar on Duty Sessions

In keeping with their mission of improving communities by the application of knowledge, which unleashes the power of nonprofits, foundation, and individuals, the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Grand Valley State Universityp is offering Avatar on Duty service (AvOD) to the Philanthropic community in Second Life. Various Avatars will be available to answer specific questions related to effective philanthropy and nonprofit leadership.

The AvOD will be available to answer questions in regards to effective practices and research on specific topics related to philanthropy and nonprofit leadership.

Written by: penguin kuhn

Relay for Life returns to Second Life

Avatars representing survivors, caregivers, their families and the millions of passionate supporters engaged in fighting cancer worldwide will take center stage virtually, July 19-20, when the American Cancer Society conducts its fourth annual Relay For Life® event in the Second Life virtual world. The 2008 Relay in Second Life will celebrate the “heroes” who epitomize the Society’s global mission and who represent this summer’s virtual world event theme.

This year’s virtual Relay For Life is expected to attract in excess of 2,000 participants as more than 80 teams will unite toward reaching a fundraising goal of $125,000. In 2007, the Second Life event raised $118,000 – more than double its total for the previous two years combined – and attracted more than 1,700 participants.

The funds raised through the virtual Relay For Life will benefit the American Cancer Society’s global efforts to fight cancer through research, education, advocacy and patient service programs.

For more information on the Second Life Relay For Life event and the Society virtual headquarters office, please visit and Information about Relay For Life is available 24 hours a day by visiting

[Cross-posted on NetSquared blog]

Written by: penguin kuhn

Second Life Down for Emergency Maintenance–RESOLVED

UPDATE: SL is back up. I was able to get in about 9:10. If you missed the NPC meeting, never fear, you can catch transcript to be posted here

As I’m sure some of you have encountered already today, Second Life is currently down for emergency maintenance. It’s currently not allowing anyone to log in. Per their grid status page:

“We have to close logins for a while to enable the database to process the overflow from earlier. The landstore is not accessible for the moment as well.”

You can check the current status here and I will keep folks posted!

Written by: penguin kuhn

San Francisco Meets the Metaverse 3

Join in the Celebration of the Launch of the Second Nonprofit Commons Sim! Nonprofits and their supporters will be hosting a mixed reality grand opening celebration in San Jose as part of the NetSquared conference and in the metaverse on Wednesday, May 28, 2008, starting at 10:00 A.M. PST/SLT (Second Life Time), in the new second Nonprofit Commons location.


  • Grand opening May 28 of the Nonprofit Commons 2/ALOFT, our second sim housing a large community of nonprofit organizations Mixed-reality event, to include a live presentation, a demonstration of the new Second Life Nonprofit Commons island to attendees at the NetSquared Conference in San Jose, and events within Second life
  • Live peformances all day within Second Life, with over 8 hours of music from musicians around the world
  • Media is invited to attend in-world event as well as to San Jose, and phone interviews are available upon request

This second of two Nonprofit Commons nonprofit sims was generously donated by TakingITGlobal. Like the first Nonprofit Commons sim on Plush, a virtual space for nonprofits, managed by TechSoup, Nonprofit Commons 2 creates and houses a community of social benefit organizations in the online virtual world of Second Life. This community of practice is entirely volunteer-run and hosts organizations from across the globe. To date, they have created a community blog, Twitter account, and a resource-rich wiki, and have held mixed-reality events, workshops, and regular weekly town hall meetings. This international community is a hub for charities to share best practices, work together on innovative ways to benefit their causes, and network with organizations from across the globe.

The Gala event will be a mixed-reality launch party, complete with networking, a panel of speakers, and tours of the Nonprofit Commons. This live event will take place in the real-world of San Jose, California as part of the NetSquared Conference, and within the virtual world of Second Life. These events will occur simultaneously and will also feature interactivity between the two worlds. Following the mixed-reality event, we will have an afternoon and evening full of live entertainment in Second Life. Audience members in the Second Life portion of the event will include Nonprofit Commons residents, their invited guests, and media representatives.

Don't miss this interactive collaboration, connecting the virtual world with real-world issues.

Event details:

Event activities:

10am- 11:30am PST/SLT (Second Life Time): Nonprofit Panel and Q & A session
11:30- noon: Tours of the Nonprofit Commons offices in Second Life
Noon–>: Activities continue in Second Life throughout the afternoon and night with major concerts, poetry readings, tours, dancing, and games.

Please RSVP via email to Megan Keane ( for in-world attendance to this event or IM Penguin Kuhn in Second Life. Join the TechSoup group, in-world to receive announcements about this event and future nonprofit events in Second Life.

Written by: penguin kuhn

Dancing in the Streets Tomorrow, May 17th to Benefit Ophoenix, Nonprofit Commons and China earthquake relief

Ophoenix logo

Don’t miss Dancing in the Streets–well, virtual dancing, that is– on the streets of NPC2 this Sat. May 17th from from 2-6 pm SLT/PDT.

New Nonprofit Commons resident, Ophoenix will be having an in-world dance party/fundraiser in conjunction with their real life fundraising event. Come and enjoy music avatar DJ Namov Abramovic, dancing, and tours of the second Nonprofit Commons location, NPC2.

Want to help the fundraising efforts? Click on one of the virtual images of artist, Shirley Pinchev’s artwork and you can show your support by donating real-life dollars. All proceeds will be split evenly between Ophoenix, the Nonprofit Commons project, and OxFam America’s support for earthquake relief in China. As a thank you to supporter, contributors who give $40 USD will receive a copy of the image of their choice You can see all of the photo landing pages here.

Come show your support for Ophoenix and the Nonprofit Commons tomorrow afternoon at the Dancing in the Streets event and spread the word to any interested avatars!

Written by: penguin kuhn