Non Profit Second Life Case Studies – Part II

Big ups to the folks over at Tech Soup for these Second Life Case studies. I still think it’s dying off IMHO but the results are still there. What do you think? Leave us a comment.

· Raising Capital: Human Capital and Fundraising and Marketing:

o The American Cancer Society has had tremendous fundraising success during the last four years it has hosted its virtual “Relay for Life” in Second Life, raising over US $200,000 in 2009

o Kiva.org has had some success with donation box but also the impact of the Linden currencies raised with their donation boxes. Kiva raised approximately US$1,000 as of May 2008 (after one year of operating the donation box), which it converted from Lindens into U.S. dollars and then re-invested in microfinance projects throughout the developing world. While the amount is relatively small, Kiva achieved impact via those donations, helping to fund 60 micro loans.

o However, for most nonprofits, the value of Second Life hasn’t been the dollars raised, but rather the indirect benefits including increased awareness for their organization, networking, grant opportunities, and increased volunteer base

§ The Digital Campfires Foundation, a private nonprofit that uses computer technologies and software to bridge the digital divide, connected with others in Second Life and received nearly a semi truck load of real-world donated monitors and computers to support their cause.

§ Sustainable Harvest International (SHI), a UK-based nonprofit, got involved with Nonprofit Commons as a result of an interested volunteer for the organization convincing them to give Second Life a try. This volunteer has since expanded her volunteer activities by assisting in real life with SHI’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs of corporate sponsors. As a result, SHI benefits from expanded volunteerism for their cause in Second Life, while also gaining from the corporate fundraising in real life.

Other Benefits of Second Life for Nonprofits:

· Interactivity: Interactive displays and the immersive environment of Second Life enable nonprofits to tell their story in a visually rich and interactive environment not possible in real life. By creating an environment that inspires learning by the community, champions are made of casual visitors and alliances are formed between nonprofits.

o Community Voice Mail, a nonprofit empowering people in crisis and transition by distributing free, personalized 24-hour voice mail access nationwide in the US built an interactive treasure hunt exhibit in Second Life which helps answer questions about the organization and the importance of its work. By creating a treasure hunt, the office inspires visitors to learn more through participation as opposed to simply reading the information on a website. As a result of this exhibit, Community Voice Mail has partnered with several other agencies around the country to provide services to the homeless and those in transition.

o Project Jason and Garden for the Missing created a “Families of missing person” experience via interactive posters of missing persons.

o Bay Area Video Coalition, a nonprofit media arts organization that provides high-quality, industry standard training in video production, video post-production, graphic arts created the “Gone Gitmo” exhibition, allowing viewers to step into the shoes of a Guantanamo Bay detainee.

· Environmental Impact: Imagine the carbon (and cost savings) of participating in a global conference from the privacy of your own computer.

o NetWorld noted that IBM ran a “training session for project managers using a virtual world built behind its own corporate firewall.” While IBM did not conduct a formal return-on-investment study on the exercise, it “…still found that holding the exercise in a virtual world offered important benefits. For example…it clearly saved the company money [because] it was cheaper to build a virtual auto-assembly shop for training than to replicate one in real life. And there were no airline tickets, hotel bills or meal tabs for out-of-town attendees; everyone participated from their home offices.

o Our partners at OneWorld/OneClimate offer just that with their third annual Virtual UN Summit on Climate Change this fall. Virtual press conferences, presentations, and video streaming of real world summit sessions into Second Life offers an alternative for people to participate virtually in the annual UN conference without the carbon cost of flying.

· Reaching a Global audience:

o 2 million people from around the world use Second Life.

o Since December 2008, over 1,867 avatars from 30 different countries have spent 14,821 hours on the Nonprofit Commons.

o Bridges for Women, a nonprofit dedicated to providing women survivors of any form of abuse with education, training and other supportive programs which will help them break the abusive cycle, sought to use SL to promote their organization and states that a supporting reason “…to stay involved with the NPC is that we realized we need to keep current with technology in order to reach the next generation after reading the Gartner report that 80% of active Internet users will have an avatar by 2010.” They also “intend to investigate other virtual worlds and social media platforms in the near future now that SL has been so successful in terms of expanding awareness of our program.”

o Coastal Coast Energy Services, a nonprofit organization which provides energy conservation, consumer education, advocacy, and home improvement says of NPC: In my case it’s a chance to listen to global events and exchange ideas with a global representation of nonprofits. I recently joined a group of three other individuals; we are creating a web based database of nonprofit organizations including the ability to search for specific qualities or goals. Allowing anyone to enter in a few key words and find a nonprofit that fits their needs, and then find out more information (a web site, a Second Life office, or if nothing else a person to contact). This is one more way they are making global links between nonprofits, creating a global support community, so that we can support our communities with good works.

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