Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nonprofits Getting A Lease In Second Life

By Marla E. Nobles

America's Second Harvest (A2H) added another location to its coalition of more than 200 food banks and food-rescue organizations. But unlike the other operations, this one won't be stateside. In fact, donors will have to log on to enter its doors.

The Chicago-based food bank is the latest in a growing number of nonprofits joining the cyberspace community known as Second Life (SL). Some of the third sector neighbors include Fund for Animal Welfare (situated on Progressive Island), Reporters Without Borders (Hangflame), Save the Children (Midnight City), World Vision (Kiwa Northwest), and the Southern California chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which launched the virtual "MS Fly" fundraising event this past June.

Another 32 nonprofits are housed on SL's new Nonprofit Commons space, which TechSoup officially launched this past August. There were two simultaneous grand opening celebrations, one in SL and the second "in-world" event in San Francisco. The nonprofits-only space was donated by the world's first virtual millionaire, Anshe Chung, and managed by TechSoup.

Since opening to the public in 2003, SL, created by San Francisco-based Linden Lab, has experienced explosive growth. In April 2004, SL had around 6,000 residents. Just over three years later, that number surpassed 9 million (as of August 21), growing by nearly 3 million this past summer alone.

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