Second Life kiva.org volunteer: Julles Boucher
Kiva.org, a micro-finance organization, has funded nearly 17,0000 loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries and last week crossed the $11 million rank. Kiva.org has already had a very big year, funding about $9 million worth of loans so far, and having been featured in the mainstream media including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Oprah and on ABC News. With the assistance of dedicated volunteers, Kiva also maintains a presence on different social networking sites and has recently established a presence on Second Life through the Techsoup Nonprofits Commons Project.
I discovered this when I clicked on Skeeboo Tammas's profile while chatting with him in Second Life. His profile said.
Do good at Kiva.org! For $25, you can help fund a small loan to someone in need in a developing country. Kiva is not a charity. You get repaid and e-mail updates as the business succeeds! From there you can withdraw your funds or lend it back out. You can also donate Lindens to one of our Fundraisers, or drop it into the donation box at our virtual office here on Second Life. Click on the Picks tab above to teleport there! For more information about this amazing social lending network, visit Kiva.org
That's only one method they use to help educate Second Life users about Kiva's work.
Skeeboo Tammas (or Joe Alamo in real life), a volunteer who also runs KivaFriends.org, Kiva's MySpace page, their Change.org profile and created the kiva.org browser bar. that the staff does not have time to manage.
Julles Boucher or (Julia Bailey, PhD) serves as kiva.org's Second Life Coordinator on a volunteer basis. She entered Second Life because of her relationship with kiva.org, but has purchased land and operates a shop called Garb the World. She is scientist in real life and a self-described philanthropist who has invested $5,000 plus in kiva.org. She is interested in technology and is an owner of an Internet-based business.
I sat down with to learn more about their efforts on Kiva's behalf in the virtual world.
What is kiva.org doing in SL?
Expanding marketing and awareness. We had an office a while back that someone donated but it disappeared, so we got a booth at 1st Life Aid, a few other places and we are just starting to set up a presence with the Nonprofit Commons Project. We think it is a good idea to be located with other nonprofits.
Why do you think Second Life is important for nonprofits - particularly fundraising?
Second Life is a good way to disseminate information. There is a large audience and it has been very helpful for other volunteers to work on kiva.org projects in here. For example, one morning I worked from my home in California with Joe in NY and a volunteer in Belgium in setting up an information booth. We also had help from the preson who runs the booth and who is in South Africa. It's exciting to meet other people in world who care about kiva.org and work together.
What are your goals for having a presence in SL with an office?
Exposing the Kiva organization to new people in this interesting digital world and raising money to fund loans. The strategy is kind of loose at the moment for us as we feel our way around this world. We've set up a booth and got 15 loans (at $25 each), but donations really started pouring in when wwe got the first Life Aid booth. Mostly we're attending events and doing virtual guerrilla marketing. There is another group that has raised $300 USD for Kikiva on Second Life and we also work with them.
Given your experience with managing kiva.org's presence in other social networking sites like myspace, how do virtual worlds compare in terms of the ROI?
Second Life is 3-D and very interesting in things can be done in terms of virtual marketing. It can go beyond a standard web page and we're taking advantage of that. I think it's been very good. Kiva has had it's biggest year ever and our digital marketing has had a big role in that. Maybe not as big as Oprah, but still ...
What advice would you give to nonprofits just starting off in second life?
Start a team to figure things out, invite your volunteers/donors to help and empower them as the Official Second Life volunteer, look for gamers who are already familiar with these virtual worlds. Attend lots of meetings and talk to people and ask questions and get help. There are lots of people in Second Life who want to help and there are many users here hanging out who would love to volunteer for a non-profit.