Personal Fundraising in Second Life: Yonder Doesburg Raises Money for Make A Wish

Make A Wish Donation Box in Second Life

On the Web, you can become a messenger for your cause by adding a charity badge or fundraising widget to your blog or web site.  With one click, visitors can contribute dollars to your cause!  In Second Life, you can build a 3-D display and donation box where avatars can contribute Linden dollars.     That’s my avatar sitting on top of the donation box (it spins!) after making a contribution to Make A Wish.  

I was curious because this effort was not put together by the nonprofit organization, but by an individual, “Yonder Doesburg,” who decided to raise money in this virtual world for his favorite charity.   He shared a lot about what works with fundraising in Second Life.  Although the amounts raised in Linden Dollars sound impressive, the USD amounts are still modest.   But, avatars who raising money in Second Life for their causes are also spreading the word to others.

I caught up with him to learn more about his efforts:

Why are you raising money for Make A Wish Foundation?

In real life I have two nephews who both have Muscular Dystrophy or MD. MD has ruined their bodies and neither of them can walk. They live in their wheel chairs and can not get around with out them. They are 15 and 13 years old and will not likely live to 20 years old. The oldest one is very bitter. He has become anti-social and hates the world for his disease. He is fully aware of his impending death, and has a very difficult time dealing with it. It has caused a great strain on their family and those close to them. A couple years ago the Make A Wish Foundation granted their wishes and sent them with their family to Disney World. It was the highlight of their lives. For a week the boys were able to forget about their problems and enjoy life.

My motivation for collecting Lindens in Second Life is to help grant other children their wishes.

How did you get started?

I contribute to this charity in real life too.  I donate money every month through the Combined Federal Campaign. My brother in-law (the boy’s father) has an account in SL and together we designed the Make A Wish donation boxes and set up the first donation site in 2006.

In January, 2006, we had purchased some land and were playing around with ideas for what to build and make. We did the typical thing most folks do like throw up houses and trees and try out our building skills.  Often when we were on SL together, we would talk about his sons and the help many people and charities had given to them. In the past they have received a wheel chair van at a discount and the boys have attended summer camps with other kids with MD. The trip the boys enjoyed the most was the trip to Disney World.

These stories got to me, I get choked up easily, and it stays with me for a while. I had a tip jar in my avatar’s inventory, and thought it would be a great way to raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation. We put it together and built a small kiosk to place it in.

Tell me about your fundraising strategies in Second Life?

It has been pretty basic.  At first I bought small affordable plot of land and placed my Donation Cubes on them. I also purchased other plots that were selling for inexpensively and then resell them and put the proceeds towards my monthly donations to Make A Wish. These early efforts didn’t net as much as my main kiosk, but I managed to sell a couple plots and raise money for the charity.

My best collections have come from placing my Donation Cubes in the same location as the vendors I use to sell my built items. In the past I would rent stalls at popular malls or shops and place the cubes prominently in front of my vendors.  These did well for while, but would soon decrease. I think because many of the same patrons visited the same shops and I rarely received repeat donations.

I sold all my land at one point when I moved to Alaska. When I bought my new land, I decided to have only one location with a much larger Kiosk and more information about the Make A Wish Foundation. I advertise the land with a few key words.
Currently I have two locations to collect donations in Second Life. In the Sim of Iris, where I have my Make A Wish site, and in the sim of Paradise Isles. A friend of mine, Tabatha Binder, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Make A Wish Foundation and has one of my Donation Cubes in the center of her Palms Park Mall.

How much did you raise last year?

Donations for Make A Wish came to L$ 41,356 in 2006 or close to $200 USD.  I watched the exchanged rate and exchanged my Lindens for real dollars when the rate was good.
When I forward the donation money to Make a Wish,  I use my avatars name as the donor and in the comments/message place I type “From the generous citizens of Second Life”.
I gladly accept any and all donations from people while they are in Second Life. In the real world people should visit to make donations or see how they can help.

Written by: kanter