We at TechSoup believe Second Life provides a rich environment in which to collaborate and explore new territory, making it a valuable, creative community-building tool. This is because:- It costs virtually nothing to build a location in Second Life.
- Nonprofits can use the tool to raise funds (for example, the American Cancer Society's virtual Relay 4 Life just raised $40,000 auctioning off virtual goods).
- Second Life offers a safe and anonymous means of self-expression.
- Second Life provides a space for the impossible to happen (for example, a group of adults with severe disabilities recently used the tool to interact in an environment without the physical constraints they experience in the real world).
To this end, we would like to help introduce nonprofits to this new platform and to the possibilities it offers, and to help connect them with other nonprofits who are benefiting from the platform.
We hope that by providing a collaboration network for the nonprofits that are beginning to explore Second Life, we can help those organizations learn from each others' experiences and ultimately enable them to more successfully raise funds and reach out to an entirely new base of tech-savvy constituents and volunteers.
To date, we have created a virtual TechSoup office in Second Life, where nonprofits can meet and share ideas. We have set up a portable virtual directory of nonprofits in Second Life that can be freely shared and distributed to others. We have also held a live event, with guest nonprofit speakers who were currently working in the platform, which took place in both real life and in the world of Second Life.
But isn't Second Life just a game?
Although Second Life is often billed as a form of entertainment and can be used that way, there is no predetermined challenge in Second Life and there is no way to "win." This allows nonprofits (and other organizations) to use Second Life as more of a live chat tool — albeit one with many extended features, like the ability to express visual cues when chatting and the capacity to build applications and screen media.
Furthermore, we believe that Second Life can provide a less daunting introduction to emerging technologies. There is a common conception in the nonprofit sector that introducing an element of fun somehow depletes a project of its significance. We hope we can show that technology can still be powerful even when it's enjoyable.
How are other organizations using Second Life?
Here are some examples of recent nonprofit and educational events in or inspired by Second Life:
- The American Cancer Society raised more than $40,000 through its Second Life Relay for Life event.
- The San Jose Tech Museum, in collaboration with Linden Lab, built a scaled-down version of Second Life as a way to help children explore virtual worlds and expand their creativity in new ways.
- A variety of nonprofits are using Second Life to promote their causes, network, and further their missions. Read what Second Life has done for these organizations in TechSoup's article Change the World by Working in a Virtual One.
- The George Eastman House, said to be the world's oldest photography museum, has set up an exhibit, Seeing Ourselves: American Face, in Second Life. The exhibit corresponds with a real-world tour of the photographs.
- Educators are using Second Life to present seminars and stage performances and storytelling sessions designed to help youth learn about other cultures.
- People with disabilities reportedly have been using Second Life to explore environments where physical constraints are minimized and where they have almost absolute control over their avatars' features and actions.
NetSquared, a Project of TechSoup.org
Our mission is to spur responsible adoption of social web tools by social benefit organizations. There's a whole new generation of online tools available – tools that make it easier than ever before to collaborate, share information and mobilize support. These tools include blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, podcasting, and more. Some people describe them as "Web 2.0"; we call them the social web, because their power comes from the relationships they enable.
SupportForHealing was originally founded in 2004 as a forum for people with Mental Health problems, Depression , life problems etc... and now have the capacity to add support in a wider field as the site grows. Its a non profit place, free from Pop-ups & annoying advertsSupport for Healing has a moderated message board that provides a safe environment for peer to peer support.