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Suella Ember
Posts: 4,412

Charity in Second Life

It's Comic Relief (or Red Nose Day!) in the UK which has got me thinking about charity work in SL (For non UK residents who want to know more about Comic Relief see here).

There are many people and organisations in SL who run charity events to raise money which, obviously, is a wonderful thing. Due to the anonymous nature of SL though, people may often have that nagging doubt about whether their money is going to the charity. Of course, most well organised events (such as relay for life in SL) have clear chairty backing and organisation behind them and I'd always encourage people to get involved in such events. Where there are individual avatars raising money for charity though, it can be difficult to know whether you are being scammed.

Which got me to thinking ....

LL recently blogged officially about fundraising efforts for relief in Japan. I would imagine people feel a little more comfortable donating when LL are in control of the money like this. So what could LL realistically do to help ease the concerns of people donating to indivduals raising money for charities inworld?

Perhaps they could have a directory of supported charities and hand out official vendors, donation boxes etc which anyone could use for their fundraising events? Money would go straight to named Linden accounts and paid on to the charities, with LL placing official confirmation of payments somewhere on the website. The problem with this though, is that LL obviously can't support ALL the multitude of charities there are in the world and would it be fair to support one charity over another? Having said that, there would be nothing stopping people from still individually raising money for other charities inworld, it's just that LL would have a few officially supported ones (which could perhaps even be rotated year by year to support as many as possible?) 

Or am I looking at this from the wrong angle? Maybe it shouldn't be all down to LL. Maybe what we should be doing is approaching our favoured charities to have an official presence in SL, where people can be safe in the knowledge that if they donate to a vendor or donation box of an official organisation there money will definitely get to the charity (as is the case for Relay for Life) Of course, the issue here is that there would be some small overhead for the charity in maintaining their inworld presence and they would need to determine if any funds they could raise in SL would be more than those overheads.

Or is it simply a case of common sense? Should we continue to allow the status quo where anyone can raise money for their preferred charity if they wish and it's up to us to make sensible checks to ensure that its a legit fundraising effort, and if it turns out to be a scam we AR and let LL deal with it?

Please also note that I'm most definitely not trying to discourage anyone from running individual charity events or from donating to other events in SL! Please DO! I'm just trying to provoke some thought on discussion on if there are potential ways to lessen the liklihood of scams in SL or, indeed, on if it's a non issue. I actually suspect that, for the most part, it might be a none issue. I'm sure there are occassional scams, but I imagine they are relatively rare and dealt with relatively quickly. Should one scam be too many if there is a better way though?

So people - thoughts, comments, suggestions?

/me is now off to settle down in front of the TV for a night of ... well ... of comic relief! (I was going to eat as much cheese as possible for Comic Relief, but I haven't been feeling too well. So I'll just get on the phone and donate this year! :smileytongue: )

 

Keli Kyrie
Posts: 1,843
Registered: ‎09-23-2010

Re: Charity in Second Life

Reply to Suella Ember - view message

Aw... Sullea I hope you feel better. I have only been involved in Second Life Charities three times and I trusted the organizers each time.

1) The bears. I trust LL with getting the money to the right place.

2) Flood Relief. The people organizing it were club owners that I knew and trusted.

3) Church. Yes there is church in Second Life and I give to the donation boxes.

I think it is kind of like RL most people can tell a scam when they see it. I find it really sad in SL and RL when people use other people's tragedies for their personal gain.

Have fun watching Comic Relief! :smileyvery-happy:

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going" – Beverly Sills
“Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads!” – Doc (Back to the Future)
“OK maybe I am a little bit blonde” – Keli Kyrie
Eve1209 Quintessa
Posts: 34
Topics: 3
Registered: ‎10-05-2009

Re: Charity in Second Life

[ Edited ]

Reply to Suella Ember - view message

It's interesting that you just brought this up. I recently posted a question here, asking how it would be possible for me to make some of my items available for sale and have the proceeds, ALL the proceeds, go directly to a known and reputable Japan disaster relief foundation.  My only motivation for this was to be able to use the gifts and talents that God gave me to help out those people who were affected by this horrible tradgedy.  Of the few repsonses, the majority implied that they would be very hesitant to donate to a resident such as myself because it could be a scam, and another person implied that it was a very good reason for me to promote myself, my business and get traffic for my sim.  Needless to say, I was a bit hurt.  I understand there are evil people this world, but not everyone is evil and only out to promote themselves.  However, I really did just want to help, and that's why I was researching a way to make sure the money went directly to a reputable relief organization.  After stating that in reply to the critics, there were no more replies on the thread.

I am a bit dismayed but I won't let the negativity of the people here on this board affect my desire to help people. It's very easy to shoot down other people's ideas but unless those critics are out trying to get involved themselves then their opinions ultimately don't carry much weight. I for one would love to see LL make it easier for residents to run fundraising drives through official channels so there's never any question as to where the money is actually going.  There are alot of good people in the world too, and I'll help anyway I can to make it easier for them to do the work they feel they need to do in their hearts to help out their fellow man.  Very good post Suella. :smileyhappy:

"That which does not kill you, only makes you stronger."
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Ishtara Rothschild
Posts: 6,249

Re: Charity in Second Life

Reply to Keli Kyrie - view message


Keli Kyrie wrote:

<snip>

3) Church. Yes there is church in Second Life and I give to the donation boxes.

I think it is kind of like RL most people can tell a scam when they see it.

<snip>


If you can tell a scam when you see it, why would you give money to a church? :smileyindifferent:

Advisor
Ishtara Rothschild
Posts: 6,249

Re: Charity in Second Life

Reply to Eve1209 Quintessa - view message


Eve1209 Quintessa wrote:

<snip> 

I understand there are evil people this world, but not everyone is evil and only out to promote themselves. 

<snip>


While I reserve the word "evil" for a select few, I think it's safe to say that most, if not all, people are selfish. They'd be pretty flawed animals if they weren't. Even Linden Lab organized this fund raiser partially to promote their own business, and there is nothing wrong with that.

My only concern is the question how much of the money is really put to good use where it is most needed. If residents organize their own charities, the answer is always "we have no way of knowing that". That's why people are best advised to only donate to well-known charitable organizations through their official channels. And even then your money might end up paying for the private jet of some chairman.

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Suella Ember
Posts: 4,412

Re: Charity in Second Life

Reply to Eve1209 Quintessa - view message

 


Eve1209 Quintessa wrote:

It's interesting that you just brought this up. I recently posted a question here, asking how it would be possible for me to make some of my items available for sale and have the proceeds, ALL the proceeds, go directly to a known and reputable Japan disaster relief foundation.  My only motivation for this was to be able to use the gifts and talents that God gave me to help out those people who were affected by this horrible tradgedy.  Of the few repsonses, the majority implied that they would be very hesitant to donate to a resident such as myself because it could be a scam, and another person implied that it was a very good reason for me to promote myself, my business and get traffic for my sim.  Needless to say, I was a bit hurt.  I understand there are evil people this world, but not everyone is evil and only out to promote themselves.  However, I really did just want to help, and that's why I was researching a way to make sure the money went directly to a reputable relief organization.  After stating that in reply to the critics, there were no more replies on the thread.


 

Hi Eve :smileyhappy:

Yeah - this kinda highlights the problem nicely! Unfortunately, because there are some scammers around, people have a habit of always assuming the worst and lumping the honest ones in with the scammers. The problem really is that the anonymous nature of SL makes accountability difficult and, because of that, I can understand people proceeding with caution (although there is no need for peole to express that caution with rudeness).

As for your particular case,  I think you only really have a couple of options:

1. Instead of doing something yourself, point people to the bears from LL people can buy to donate, or look at getting involved with an independent event such as that highlighted in the LL blog post.

2. Do something yourself and donate the collected funds direct to a chairty. Promise people who donate to you that you will post official proof of the payment to charity in your store / on your blog etc and make sure you post a copy of the confirmation of receipt you get from the charity.

Neither is really ideal though, which is why I thihnk it would be great if LL were able to provide some official charity vendors etc that people could use (although that has problems of it's own has highlighted in my OP).

 

Advisor
Suella Ember
Posts: 4,412

Re: Charity in Second Life

Reply to Ishtara Rothschild - view message

 


Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

While I reserve the word "evil" for a select few, I think it's safe to say that most, if not all, people are selfish. They'd be pretty flawed animals if they weren't. Even Linden Lab organized this fund raiser partially to promote their own business, and there is nothing wrong with that.

My only concern is the question how much of the money is really put to good use where it is most needed. If residents organize their own charities, the answer is always "we have no way of knowing that". That's why people are best advised to only donate to well-known charitable organizations through their official channels. And even then your money might end up paying for the private jet of some chairman.


 

I agree with you, to a point.

It's quite likely that in the back of the mind of many fundraisers is the fact that it will promote their buisness too and, as you say, there is nothing wrong with that. The important thing is that the money gets to the charity.

I would also say though, that there are people who raise money more altruistically with no real desire to promote themselves or their business. A sense of satisfaction and personal pride may also be in the back of their mind which I suppose you could still interpret as 'selfish', but that's ok too. That sort of 'selfishness' is fine by me!

As for never actually knowing whether your money is going direct to the people who need it or to other overheads and fancy trappings of the chairty in question. It's an age old problem with charities and an unavoidable one. All we can do is ensure that we are donating to a charity with a good reputation. Some money may well still go to the charities overheads, but that's kind of acceptable too. If some money didn't go to overheads the charity wouldn't exist and then no money would be going to where it is actually needed. While it is a valid point that there is never a 100% guarantee your money will go direct to the people who need it, I dislike seeing people using it as an excuse for not donating to reputable charities (My dad has even used that excuse before and I've told him off and made him get his credit card out! :smileyvery-happy: )

Posts: 1,604
Registered: ‎06-08-2009

Re: Charity in Second Life

Reply to Suella Ember - view message

If you really want to be sure the charity gets the most good from your donation, then donate your time.  It is the resource most in demand and least given. 

All things to excess; moderation is for monks.