Business in Virtual Worlds, Education in Virtual Worlds, Second Life, Virtual World Platforms

Nonprofit Commons Published on Huffington Post

Coverage of virtual worlds has been seeping into ever wider spheres of influence, with the Huffington Post picking up the story of non-profits in Second Life, hardly a trail-blazing piece of investigative journalism but one of those things that makes you feel like “OK, fine, PRETEND you discovered it, at least you noticed.”

Susan Tenby, the online community director of TechSoup Global, a company that gives non-profits free information, resources and support about technology, recently wrote a piece about a Nonprofit Commons mixer that was published on the popular HP.

Tenby paints a vibrant picture of the event that took place in a small conference room in San Jose, California as part of the NetSquared Conference. She captures the mix of bloggers, texters, filmers, and screens filled with avatars and Second Life scenes accurately, describing the chaos of the future-world of virtual/real world conferences that is happening now.

Tenby, a career veteran of the non-profit healthcare sphere, describes a virtual space as “a world where the impossible can happen and that is very significant when the impact can vastly improve a patient’s quality of life.”

Nonprofit Commons is a community of nonprofits housed in Second Life. Its goal is to explore the opportunities in SL, and to date has 65 social benefit organizations on its two sims. The attendees were celebrating the launch of Health Commons, the latest SL nonprofit island. Tenby concludes by commenting on the financial growth of non-profits in the virtual space:

Large foundations are beginning to take notice and leaders like the MacArthur Foundation are not only providing grants to nonprofits to help grow their virtual presence, they are holding events on their own island. Other nonprofit communities like Global Kids teach digital media skills to young people and have successful funded programs in Second Life. More nonprofits are seeing virtual worlds, like Second Life, as one of a handful of social media tools that are essential in their Web and outreach strategies.

The combination of virtual worlds with social media is the real kicker: as companies come to realize that the immersive Web isn’t a stand-alone thing, but is something that should be properly integrated into wider marketing plan, we will hopefully see an increase in intelligent uses of virtual worlds rather than prototypes that rarely stand on their own merits, just like a single TV ad doesn’t usually cut it either.

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