Saturday, June 23

MacArthur Foundation enters Second Life

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has given the Center on Public Diplomacy of the University of Southern California $550,000 to stage events in Second Life, including discussions of how foundations can address issues like migration and education.

Our second favorite New York Times reporter, Stephanie Strom, had an article yesterday which describes how Jonathan Fanton, MacArthur's president, has an avatar known as Jonathan MacFound. He recently discussed the role of philanthropy in virtual worlds with Philip Rosedale, the founder and chief executive of Linden Labs, the company that produces Second Life.

In an interview, Mr. Fanton said MacArthur planned to eventually open an office in a virtual world and make grants through it that will become actual grants in the real world. “We’re still figuring out how to do that,” he said. “All of this is a learning experience.”

Mr. Rosedale said making grants in the virtual world offered a way for foundations to explore concepts and develop programs before rolling them out. “You can start things very cheaply in Second Life, play with them and let them germinate, and then put more behind them if and when they take off,” he said.

Charities and other nonprofit groups are also beginning to migrate into the so-called metaverse, seeking ways of attracting new donors and hoping to educate a broader audience about the issues they address.

The article also reports that over 30 nonprofits have opened offices in a virtual business incubator in Second Life called the Nonprofit Commons that is operated by TechSoup, a group that helps other nonprofits with technology.

2 comments:

Beth Kanter said...

Good report. Did you attend? It was quite groundbreaking. I've summarized some of the reactions and I did a live blog of the event
http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2007/06/virtual-platfor.html

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