Saturday, January 3, 2009

Charities in SL

It's time for me to reveal to you all what I think about charitable requests in SL: I think the way they are handled sucks. Not the charities themselves--the requests and the way donations in SL are managed at present. I see many people--some of them treasured friends--collecting monies on behalf of charities. I know these friends are good for their word, but if you don't know them personally, how do you know?

To be honest, I suspect I have been scammed out of more Lindens giving to "charitable" causes than I have to anything else in SL. I ignore the emails from Nigerian princes asking for me to lend them money. How come I am supposed to walk into SL and watch my brain (and Lindens) go out the door? Not anymore.

I think you all kind of got a whiff of that last month when I posted RFyre's official statement about charities. I have come to solidify some of those thoughts based on the many charitable requests that have come across my virtual desk recently. The American Cancer Society has been very successful on SL, due in part to the incredible volunteer work of several individuals. Now everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon.

I have encountered "charitable" requests wherein a logo was used (easily ripped off the organization's website), a plea was made on behalf of someone's brother or dog or grandma, a personal avatar took the monies, content providers spent hours making one-of-a-kind things that sold for $5 USD when they were auctioned off, and events were staged that yielded less than my writing a check of $25 to the organization personally.

One special offender set up an "auction" for Relay for Life in SL wherein we put money in a box, but when our auction was exceeded, we did not get our bid returned to us. She could have said the item went to the highest donor. But no, she said it went to the highest bidder. And this was a high-profile SL personality (who always seems to have her hand out for one or another charitable thing--most of it amounting to keeping her sims open). I do not believe Relay for Life would have condoned how she went about her "auction"; however, she acted on behalf of them, using their kiosk and logo.

How come the content providers spend hours of time looking for others stealing their content have no problems handing over free content and time to potentially unscrupulous money handlers? Or even worse, bungling money handlers.

What it amounts to is this: I need to be assured that the monies being collected are being collected legitimately and sent legitimately. The onus is on the collector, not on me, to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are handling the monies correctly.

In the "real world," non-profit organizations have to go through many iterations to prove this. We as donors should require the same accountability. A financial report should be presented. My alma maters do it for me every year. My charitable recipients do it. Those who ask us for money in SL should also be expected to do this. To pull out a .csv file and throw it in an Excel spreadsheet with a copy of a cashiers check or the receipt for the monies donated should not be hard to do. And it should not be a tax write-off for a recipient. In fact, if someone donates substantial monies for an auction here, I would expect them to get a receipt for THEIR write off.

What should be expected?

* Upon request, the address of the charitable organization can be provided and a means of contacting them so there is proof that they have approved of the charitable event and use of their logo for such.

* A separate avatar made solely for the purpose of gathering donations and accounting for those donations. The donations should NOT go to a private avatar.

* An accounting of the donated items that have been provided with an estimated value. This includes designs OR performances. This is so we ALL know that the content providers' time and efforts are being matched at least minimally with donated money.

* Information about how one can contact the organization for a receipt if the donation exceeds $25 USD.

I have yet to see a function operate like this. I honestly have not looked closely at the American Cancer Society thing, though people gathering money on behalf of Relay for Life have been, at times, suspicious. The closest I have seen was the Make-a-Wish promotion done at the Best of SL, run by RubyStarlight Writer. Ruby used a separate avatar for funds gathering (though she had a personal avatar gather money at the celebrity auction--tsk) and was able to prove that Make-a-Wish condoned her activities and had reviewed them. Am I *positive* that she will turn over all monies collected? No. But I am a lot more sure than if she hadn't done these things.

Finally, I wonder if it's ever been considered by anyone that if these charitable organizations are contacted for approval, they MIGHT have resources to help raise funds for them including better graphics, pre-written statements, photographs and web links? They might even *gasp* find Second Life interesting and send someone in to check it out.

We all complain about Linden Labs, their lack of professionalism, their lack of customer service, foresight, etc. Yet we don't demand the same of ourselves or our peers in Second Life in taking money from each other for charitable organizations.

In short, next time you have your hand out, expect me to ask questions. The next time someone else has their hand out, ask them questions. Let's bring Second Life back to the Real. You want my Real money, I think you should do it Really right.

26 comments:

Strawberry Holiday said...

I agree! Everyone seems to judge you for not being willing to throw money into a SL Charity when there is absolutely no backing for it.

Virtual Africa in Second Life has done many of the things you suggested here, including the separate avatar for money collections, and extensive documentation on how their SL money is handled, but even Relay For Life doesn't have those sort of transparencies.

Rory Serpente said...

Touché.

These words so profound and from a so called “fashionista”, or could it be Miss Beresford has a a brain, and a very good one at that? Was she not one of those at the fore to assist Eshi Otawara in her battle against the cruel, absurd and draconian U.S. immigration policy known as the "Widow's Penalty"?

Yes she was, and now she raises an issue as important.

So Linden Lab, what are you going to do about the Second Life (append all trade mark, copyright etc symbols here, however you can leave off the “we are totally transparent in our charity fund raising work” symbol, as there is no transparency, no way of really knowing the money you donate is going to the charity you are hoping to support.

I am not suggesting for a nano-second that Relay for Life, or the other legitimate Charities are not wonderful causes and worth supporting, and I don’t question all the funds raised go to the Charity. However as a RL lawyer, albeit not in the US justice system (I get to wear a wig and fancy dress) should I have to prove in Court of Law that all funds raised in SL go to the Charity concerned could I?

The answer sadly is NO I could not.

I was recently at a Charity Fundraiser where SL persons where “auctioned” for a donation to the Charity concerned, an excellent idea. However when you consider one bidder “paid/donated” well in excess of L$100,000 we are speaking about considerable sums of RL money and some form of accountability, transparency and accreditation is definitely required.

So my challenge to Linden Lab is implement an accreditation system, legitimate registered charities who wish to fund-raise in SL must provide their bona-fides to Linden Lab, who would then issue a special avatar name, as you currently issue the last name LINDEN to Linden Lab employees.

That way anyone giving money to an avatar named First-name CHARITY, would know the Charity concerned had established their bona-fides with Linden Lab.

Will this require additional work by Linden Lab? Yes but not a great deal.

Should I as a Second Life non-premium account member be prepared to pay for this, I say no.

Why?

I have account details on file, I rent land, and have always done so, I therefore pay an increased tier ( yes by my own choosing) however this increase in addition to me landlady/landlord’s profit margin, if any, includes a component to cover Premium Membership etc..

Alas when I look at the Grid-Status reports, do I expect the number of log in failures, asset server failures, “Inworld services issues” (I particularly like that term and dip my hat to the spin doctor who came up with the phrase) the short answer is no.

So Linden Lab, implement an an accreditation system for legitimate registered charities who wish to fund raise in SL and do so by say 30 June.

Oh 30 June, 2009, that is.

Over to you Linden Lab.

Harper Beresford said...

Well, I am more a virtual "libertarian" than you are, Rory. I don't consider it Linden Lab's responsibility to monitor charities in SL any more than I consider it their responsibility to be held accountable for every time someone says something mean to someone else.

I consider ourselves, as consumers and donors, to be accountable for asking these questions. To ask LL to add mechanisms for doing this would be onerous and would cost us all in the end. Best we do it ourselves.

So every time someone asks for money for a charity, demand this information. Being a good citizen and a good consumer is *our* responsibility.

metameerkat.net said...

Harper, thank you for posting this!

I have decided to reply via an entry on our own project blog for Virtual Africa: http://slafrica.wordpress.com/2009/01/05/raising-funds-in-second-life-r-or-rather-not/

These are valid concerns and I am glad you raised it. I believe we have some good practices (more than those you mention) that could serve as beacons in designing a way forward.

The greater challenge will probably be to get agreement between stakeholders on verification and authentication, given the global scope of SL. I think there is enough goodwill and insight in the non-profit community to make it happen.

I *do* want to also make the point that (if fully declared) I cannot see any problem with an individual (private avatar) raising funds for a personal cause, e.g. sending a child to college.

Prokofy said...

I think *you suck*, Harper. And what's totally bogus in particular is your fake notion that you yourself have "linked your avatar with your RL name". You haven't. It's not on the first life page of your avatar profile. And it takes Google sleuthing to find, not a simple search. So sorry, no sale.

You've hidden behind an SL avatar to harass people and make nasty comments about them and vilify them, as you have done in Second Life in the Metanomics group to me, without any accountability that should come with that kind of hate, that would link up readily to your RL name, corporation, and so on. No, an Information Week article doesn't cut it. That's not a linkage, and you know it.

I can't for the life of me imagine why someone with a RL business and suburban location as you profess in RL would ever find it necessary to make nasty comments about "land barons" and "vested interests" and all the other crap you've put out. Er, did you use a realtor for your suburban tract house, dear, in RL? Would you dare to make that kind of nasty comment to such a RL realtor?!

BTW, I personally am waiting for the stories of some of the charities YOU have supported and causes YOU have endorsed to unravel -- because I'm personally very, very skeptical about them, and see holes in the stories, and don't buy them, precisely because I don't see really good investigative journalism at work on them, but just a lot of anonymous and emotional avatars full of shit in SL.

Yes, let's start with this very case of Eshi Otawara. Yes, I realize it's terribly politically incorrect to go against what thecommunity has decided about this story and GASP and OMGODZORS HOW COULD YOU. And, yes, I realize that there are people who have verified this to their satisfaction.

But I haven't. And I haven't seen anything that has been put up by thecommunity that really verifies it. No local university showing the husband actually on the roster, ever. No actual death notice in any actual newspaper. No actual law office's actual notarized statement or U.S. government letter or statement actually published, or seen by any credible journalist, as distinct from somebody's friend -- yours. Yes, absolute record time on that green card, and some holes in the story -- and I say this because I've worked on these cases myself, including from the country Eshi is from, and I'm simply not buying the story *shrugs*. I will be the last one to be surprised when some of the people closest to this story begin to find it's not all what it seems --as if I've seen it a hundred times, in RL and SL.

Oh, I realize some people may have actually met her and her lawyer in RL and are full believers, including Harper, who has the most to gain from this by appearing as a Helper to Humankind and getting all the feting that goes with it in SL. But that doesn't mean anything. Her story is no more or less credible than any other story around the magical bullshit of the SL community and the likes of anonymous creatures like Harper Beresford.

Instead of answering the kinds of questions you would think would be answered, we get just a lot of hooting and hollering and screeching about the evil U.S. government and its evil ways, although, of course, the U.S. has taken in more immigrants than any other country in the world, and yes, has to take some measures to discourage the enormous amount of fake marriage fraud that goes on.

Why is Linden Lab supposed to burden itself with credentialing the millions of anonymous avatars doing all sorts of the things on its platform? The rest of the Internet doesn't do that. Why should SL? Credential yourself in the proper way with existing RL structures and stop whining.

Rory Serpente said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rory Serpente said...

"I have removed my full response to Prokofy's comments as it is not related to Charities in SL but to Prokofy's comments.

However for those interested my response to Prokofy is on my blog Rethink Second Life at http://rethinksl.blogspot.com/"

Studio said...

As the owner of Studio Red, and the organizer of the Make-a-Wish Celebrity Charity Auction (conducted as part of the Stylista Festival organized by RubyStarlight Writer) referenced in Harper's original post, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide readers, especially those who have commented, with additional information about this event with the goal of clarifying event procedures and the overall validity of the event.

***

"Upon request, the address of the charitable organization can be provided and a means of contacting them so there is proof that they have approved of the charitable event and use of their logo for such."

The Stylista Festival, benefiting the Make-a-Wish Foundation (Foundation) was done with the full approval of the Foundation. RubyStarlight Writer worked closely with Assistant General Counsel, to address the logistics of this event. When approached to conduct the auction portion of the event, Studio Red, in conducting its due diligence, spoke directly to the Foundation representative confirming that (a) the Foundation was in fact aware of this event, that (b) RubyStarlight Writer was the official coordinator for the event in Second Life (SL) as well as additional topics.

The use of the Foundation logo was done so with full approval of the Foundation, with each marketing piece being approved by Foundation counsel prior to distribution in SL.

Contact information for Assistant General Counsel can and will be provided upon request.

"A separate avatar made solely for the purpose of gathering donations and accounting for those donations. The donations should NOT go to a private avatar."

To manage financial contributions, a unique avatar, Wish Sharple, was created by RubyStarlight Writer to collect contributions for the series of events. For the auction alone, it was Studio Red's decision to collect payment directly in order to verify actual payment received for auctionees.

Our decision to collect money directly is supported by a very detailed accounting (Excel spreadsheet) of monies paid by auction winners corresponding with monies paid to Wish Sharple. The transactions have been reviewed and verified by both Studio Red and RubyStarlight Writer. Any auction winner can receive a receipt upon request - several are in progress with the Donor Care Team of the Foundation at present date.

"An accounting of the donated items that have been provided with an estimated value. This includes designs OR performances. This is so we ALL know that the content providers' time and efforts are being matched at least minimally with donated money."

While it is standard practice to provide estimated values for goods and services for tax reporting purposes (to donors) and a letter acknowledging receipt of goods/services/time, it is not standard practice to provide an event summary report with the content referenced above to any party other than a Board of Directors or internal sub-committee as appointed by the Board of Directors. Aside from this, due to the unique economy of SL, disparity will always exist between the value of goods and/or services and the amounts paid (or not paid) for them during a charity fundraising event. When a designer or performer donates his/her services, time or products, he/she does so with the full knowledge that full retail value may not be received via donations.

"Information about how one can contact the organization for a receipt if the donation exceeds $25 USD."

Contact information for the Assistant General Counsel for the Make-a-Wish Foundation will be provided to any auction winner requesting such. As previously mentioned, receipts are in progress (managed by the Donor Care Team for the Foundation) for several transactions and are available to any donor who requests such.

"Am I *positive* that she will turn over all monies collected?"

All event donors, including auction winners, can rest assured that all monies collected during the Stylista Festival will in fact be delivered to the Foundation. Since the Foundation is the official owner of the Wish Sharple avatar, technically they are already in possession of all funds raised. Confirmation of funds received will be provided by the Foundation and made available to donors at such time the withdrawal is completed.

***

In closing, I just want to say that the charity auction and the entire Stylista Festival to benefit the Foundation was a tremendous undertaking for all parties involved. Countless hours were devoted to the most minute of details and every effort was made to ensure that the events raised the bar for charitable activities in SL. For those individuals who have questions, comments or suggestions, I welcome the opportunity to discuss the matter further and can be reached in-world or via email (listed in in-world profile).

Sincerely,

Xochi Tolsen
Studio Red

Harper Beresford said...

One quick question, Xochi: Why was Rory asked to give his auction monies to Madison Canetti when he won an auction? That was the only action in the Make a Wish that sent up signals for me.

Studio said...

To ensure that all auction winners did in fact pay for their win immediately, each was asked to contact Madison Canetti. Since we (Studio Red) cannot account for monies paid directly to Wish Sharple, it was our decision to accept payment from the winners and immediately transfer money to Wish Sharple. As such, we are able to provide transactions details showing payment received for auction win and payment sent to Wish Sharple. The transactions numbers satisfy the information requirements of the Make-a-Wish Foundation necessary to issue receipts to individuals requesting such.

Harper Beresford said...

Since the monies were substantial and collected all at once, and since everyone in the room had a clear record in conversation of these monies, I am satisfied that you did the best you could with the technology available in that circumstance.

And apparently Make a Wish received roughly $7,500 USD from the efforts and donations in SL. This isn't chump change. They did a terrific job.

Prokofy said...

So.....this entire caper, dragging these people through the mud, was because new boyfriend and soon-to-be-partner Rory got a bug up his ass about the way he had to pay an auction win??? THAT was what this entire bullshit was about?!

Harper, you are a disgrace.

Kromus said...

Harper ... I cannot believe you even went and posted all of this without even talking with the responsible parties invlolved personally. You have recieved support and and worked with them in the past so why wouldn't you?

Also ... why, even after your damaging accusations were proved wrong and in fact in your words "best you could with the technology available in that circumstance"... have you not appologized or issued a public statement that you wrong in your "under-informed-negative-opinionated" blog post?

This is very troubling to me because as an entertainer I have performed for MANY charitable organizations in SL. Some that I PERSONALLY stand by for my own reasons and some that I support good friends in their mission and PASSION to raise money for awareness or direct help in the concerning issues. I myself have done the research and asked for proof that this is indeed where my work and effort AND money (in some cases) is going. It is MY responsibility to valaidate this and no one elses ... same at is would be in RL.
... but what is MOST troubling to me is that you are slamming not only the "fakes" but also the for reals. The for reals ... who UNSELFISHLY gave thier TIME, TALENTS, and MONEY to make all of this happen and did something AMAZING for a very righteous cause. You've done this so easily without even doing the proper research yourself ... without even asking the questions to the right people. AND YOU KNOW THE RIGHT PEOPLE PERSONALLY !

You are not only giving GOOD PEOPLE a bad name you are also giving freedom of speach a bad name.

The moral of this story everyone is this ...
Ask questions ... validate that your donation is going to where it is going. It is your responsibility to do so and ANY authentic and REAL organizer will gladly and happily produce what you request.
There are fakes out there... so be careful and in my opinion those fakes deserve the worst that life and the law can bestow on them ... but DO NOT let this black flag all charitable organizations or your willingness to give because SL is such a brilliant platform and canvas for such organizations to grow and reach out.

Rory Serpente said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rory Serpente said...

QUOTE

"Prokofy said...

So.....this entire caper, dragging these people through the mud, was because new boyfriend and soon-to-be-partner Rory got a bug up his ass about the way he had to pay an auction win??? THAT was what this entire bullshit was about?!

Harper, you are a disgrace.

January 5, 2009 11:19 PM


You are so off topic and so offensive, and out of interest you are totally incorrect in your statement - "Rory got a bug up his ass about the way he had to pay an auction win??? THAT was what this entire bullshit was about?!"

Prokofy if you want to pick a fight with me, do it on my blog http://rethinksl.blogspot.com/, not a blog where it is totally irrelevant.

Prokofy, bullies only have the power their victims allow them, I give you no power. You have picked the wrong person in me. So take your foul mouthed lies off a blog where your comments are, among many other things, totally incorrect and irrelevant, and move it to my blog http://rethinksl.blogspot.com/.

I will only speak to you on my blog or in an Australian Court, and I am not joking.

Rory Serpente (and I don't hide behind a single name)

Harper Beresford said...

Kromus, my initial intention with this blog was not to be inflamatory but rather to remind people that due diligence about charity donations are in their hands. People requesting monies for charities AND people giving those monies have responsibilities in exchanging information.

Kromus, please don't take my blog as an insult. This wasn't my intention. As you have seen from other postings in this set of comments, others certainly know how to make it personal and insulting.

I think the vast majority of people reading this blog would say that I demand due diligence from donors and recipients and I encourage others to do so as well. And as I said at the beginning, I may know the recipients, but others won't.

Xochi and I left the conversation mutually satisfied after my last comment. I certainly didn't ask her to post her comments initially--most of my questions about the Make a Wish processes had been answered before this blog was posted. She chose to post anyway. However, since she did, I had to raise the question of monies going to a private avatar, and again, she answered that. They had to work around the technological constraints they had--primarily that paying Wish Sharple would not satisfy HER need for due diligence, and I appreciated that once she answered.

Fayandria said...

Thank you much Harper for bring this vital and sensitive subject forward to the community of Second Life. And you are so correct! We all need to be aware of where our donations go and how they are used. SO YOU GO GIRL! Yell it from the rooftops please. Tell people to be sure and ask questions. They need to know to whose bucket that linden is going.

I do hope everyone finds time to read your blog and heed your words. I personally volunteer for the American Cancer Society and one of the reasons I stay volunteering for ACS is because one can ask for any of the types of proof you mentioned and receive the information it in a timely manner.

In closing, may I say that I believe it is the responsibility of the charity to validate their authenticity and the American Cancer Society and their volunteers are ready to do just that for you. In Second Life please contact myself, Tayzia Abattoir, Nuala Maracas, Bell Loll or Stingray9798 Raymaker for assistance. And in RL our SL Community ACS Representative, Jeffrey Montegut (Jeffrey.Montegut@cancer.org) is available to answer questions. We want you to have what you need to have confidence in donating to Relay For Life of Second Life, please contact us if you have a doubt. See you at SL's 2009 Relay For Life on July 18 and 19!

Stingray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stingray said...

As the American Cancer Society representative in Second Life, I thank you for the opportunity to address this issue, as we, too, have constantly been working for years to find the best way to handle this situation.

Unfortunately, just like in RL, there are people who collect money for themselves under the guise of charitable giving...even going so far as to use well-respected charities' logos and names.

Each year, during the planning phases of Relay For Life in Second Life, the American Cancer Society staff and volunteers work together to tweak our fundraising guidelines in an attempt to prevent as much room for fraud as possible.

We must also be realistic and understand that some of the responsibility does fall upon the donor to ensure that the person collecting money is actually collecting for our organization.

Some of the efforts that we have made include:

1. We have 3 avatars where all donations are made. They are:
relayforlife AmericanCancer
makingstrides AmericanCancer
Donations AmericanCancer

These 3 avatars represent the three areas in which donations can be made. The avatars are not used, except to accept donations, and do not spend money.

2. Our fundraising guidelines plainly state that all volunteers collecting money for the American Cancer Society (Relay For Life) in Second Life MUST use our approved kiosks, which are scripted to directly route money to the aforementioned avatars.

3. We advise all donors that if the avatar asking for money is not using one of these kiosks, do not give to them.

4. There is an American Cancer Society Island in SL where anyone may stop by and inquire as to the legitimacy of any fundraiser. If you don't get an immediate answer, our volunteer greeters and all of our volunteers are very diligent about protecting the image of the organization and will make absolutely sure that they do everything they can to provide accurate answers and information.

5. Fundraising guidelines will be posted at ACS Island and we are working with our Public Relations committee to find the best ways to inform the general public of these guidelines...to protect as many donors as we can.

6. Every time a fraudulent situation has been brought to our attention, we have worked to help resolve the issue as far as we are able to legally help.

We, at times, have even been told that we are restricting our potential by having such stringent guidelines. Some have even said that our guidelines make it too difficult for some people to donate. The bottom line is that there must be a balance of responsibility between the organizations, the donors, and the volunteers...just as in RL.

Dione Kohime said...

"I honestly have not looked closely at the American Cancer Society thing, though people gathering money on behalf of Relay for Life have been, at times, suspicious."

As a Relay For Life team captain for a second year, I am highly disappointed in this and just about every statement you made. I agree with what I believe was your intention, which is that we should be wary of anyone who approaches us asking for money on behalf of a good cause; I take exception with the heinous and negligent manner in which you present your opinion.
If you are going to single out specific organizations, you should fulfill your responsibility as a "journalist" and do your homework. Had you bothered to research Make-A-Wish or Relay For Life, your blog would have cited them as examples of what charity in SL should strive to be.

I am not an official representative of the organization, but I can speak on the facts I have:
The American Cancer Society owns and has sole access to the avatar(s) that receives all donations. Every kiosk and vendor is linked to this avatar. When a donation is made to a kiosk or vendor, it may look like a private avatar is being paid, but the script works like a login tip jar in that the funds go first into the account of the owner (whoever rezzed it) and then immediately are transfered to the ACS's avatar. Account spreadsheets will reflect this.
Every kiosk has a unique serial number, much like every avatar has a unique UUID. Anyone can simply touch the kiosk to obtain this number and verify that it is registered with the ACS.
Every team participating in RFL is registered on the ACS official Relay For Life website. The names of the Captains, Co-Captains, and 15 members are listed. It is not very difficult to determine if a team or individual is legit.
Donations can also be tracked on the website.
All of this information, including contact information for representatives both in and out of SL are on a "legitimacy notecard" that is in the info packet every team captain receives. I make sure everyone on my team and every person who agrees to host a kiosk or event on our behalf has this information in case anyone asks.

The American Cancer Society has gone to great lengths to maintain the integrity of the organization in SL, and to ensure that everyone who represents them does so with respect and honor. Every team is expected to adhere to strict guidelines in planning and executing fundraising events: one of the most important rules being that all monies are to be paid directly to an ACS kiosk or vendor, never to a third party.
In 2008, the participants of Relay For Life raised over $200,000 USD for the American Cancer Society. This is something to be celebrated. I am grateful to have found a community here that believes in their hearts that SL can be so much more than sploder, strippers and wannabe's.
People who continue to lump legitimate organizations together with the scam artists that abound just create another hurdle in our path. But no matter, we move forward, confident in our mission to not sit idly by and watch our loved ones suffer. No one can force you to donate your money or designs, so don't do it unless you are willing to take a few minutes out of your life to verify them. My requests will never grace your virtual desk. I just wouldn't feel right taking money you could waste on pixels.
...did anyone else just hear a toilet flush?

Ailsa said...

Harper

I sit in total disgust at reading the original blog as
well as some additions to it.

I would think that prior to posting such a thing you would
of talked with OFFICAL charity personnel as to find
out how things are handled, how if money is transferred
from a non charity owned avatar that you must produce
a transaction history showing what money went where and
why.

I think that there are enough people out there that yes
may do unethical things in a name of a charity, but there
are many of us that donate not only OUR LINDENS but our
TIME to help organize and run events that promote them.

If you are so concerned with where your lindens go why
do you donate anything to anyone? Is that so you have
something you can complain and blog about?

If you doubt the person then why give? You can easily
pull up the official website and donate your money there.

Charities that operate in SL often have alts that they transfer
money to. And yes when running an event to properly make
sure lindens are paid for things auctioned and won events
often have it go to one person who produces the records to be
accountable for this.

It seems that with RFL starting and the wonderful turn out
by Studio Red for the Make A wish Foundation that you
planned to make a little stink about this. And find that
you are now being pin pointed to produce your research
which at best was minimal.

And BTW Don't yo belong to :
2009 Relay for Life Clothing Fair.

Harper Beresford said...

In response to Fayandria and Stingray, thank you for responding and supplying vital information about the American Cancer Society functions in SL. I will be avidly looking for the avatar names that you have shown when I donate to your cause, which I will--with time and money. As anyone can see, you are readily able to provide information to answer the questions I asked, and I appreciate that.

In response to Ailsa, I *have* spoken to "official" people gathering monies for various charities and have received a variety of uninformed, unprofessional, and misguided responses. *That* is why I put up this blog. Do I name specific names? No. I suggest that ONE person mishandled the Relay for Life logo and mispresented an auction (they used a RFL logo on a kiosk that did not gather monies to any of the avatars listed). I questioned in comments why monies went to a private avatar for Make a Wish, and I was answered very clearly and satisfactorily regarding that. Other than that, I don't have complaints about either of these organizations. In fact, I think Rubystarlight Writer and Xochi Tolsen and the rest of the people who did Make a Wish did a tremendous job. And I know many of the people for the RFL, including Nevar Lobo, donate amazing time and efforts.

The jist of my blog, and I am not quite sure where I went wrong in making this clear, is that we as donors have a responsibility to ask questions of those asking for our donations. I have listed the questions and concerns *I* have.

One of my biggest concerns, and I don't think I have made this clear enough, is that people spend untold hours of time volunteering for these organizations, and THEY are not being assured their time has been spent fruitfully.

Obviously Xochi and Fayandra did due diligence in making sure their valuable time and money went where they expected. Have you?

Carol said...

Hi Harper :)

As a 2009 RFL of SL Co-Chair and the Teams Chairperson for the campaign last year, I understand the concerns the community may have with legitimacy of virtual world fundraising. As Fayandria and Stingray already stated, the RFL fundraiser is very transparent and any information needed can be given to concerned parties.

I would like to address the auction situation you were speaking of. I do not know the circumstances of that particular auction and perhaps you were mislead by improper wording as it should have been stated the person with the top DONATION would win the auction if a kiosk was being used.

The issue I want to address and clarify however is with the kiosks and the teams. You mentioned that the kiosk or donations were not going to one of the above mentioned RFL official avatars. Last year we had 89 teams of 15 or more avatars. Teams were allowed up to 15 official team members and could have as many "supporters" as they wished.

EACH TEAM had their own kiosks. The kiosks are scripted such that when people drop a donation into the kiosk, it will go into the account of the OWNER of the Kiosk, then IMMEDIATELY it is transferred via the script out of their account to one of the aforementioned RFL avatars, therefore it may have appeared to you as the money was going directly to her.

Each teams kiosks will have an identifying code that when someone touches it they will have an option to get a code and go to the RFL website to check it for authenticity if they wish. Another way to check for authenticity of a kioks is to visit http://www.rflofsl.org/. All team names and team members will be listed on this website during our fundraising season. The official RFL of SL fundraising season runs March through July. If anyone has any concerns that someone may be using a fake kiosk for their own gain, by all means contact the following:

Stingray9798 Raymaker-ACS Representative for RFL of SL
Fayandria Foley-RFL of SL Chair
Tayzia Abattoir-RFL of SL 1st Co-Chair
Nuala Maracas-RFL of SL 2nd Co-Chair
Belle Loll-RFL of SL 3rd Co-Chair
Catt Gable-RFL of SL TEAMS Chair
MamaP Beerbaum-RFL of SL TEAMs Co-Chair

Thank you for addressing these concerns as we are gearing up for our 2009 RFL fundraising campaign.

Go Relay!

Tayzia Abattoir

Harper Beresford said...

Thanks for clarifying, Carol.

Eddi Haskell said...

Although I have been fundraising for www.breadandjams.org for over a year in Second Life, I prefer if people make contributions directly They are a homeless shelter in the Boston area and are in desperate needs of some funds right now. Paypal is accepted. I can tell the readers that in 2007, a blizzard forced the cancellation of the annual December fundraising dinner, and contributions from Second Life helped close the gap.

Rory Serpente said...

It has just occurred to me the one unmentioned problem, and it is a really big problem, with donating to any charity within SL is wha you donate never all gets to the Charity.

NO - I am not accusing anyone of wrongdoings.

However if the Charity only exists in-world then whichever Charity you donate to takes a hit when they convert they convert the Linden Dollars donated/raised to RL currency.

As a result I have ceased donating in L$ and now donate directly to the Charity concerned in RL Dollars.

This example from my own RL -

I ,like so may others was horrified to see the devastating Bushfires in Victoria, Australia and wanted to donate.

As an Australian resident, wanting to make a reasonable donation say AU$250 I would have to buy L$, there is a "commission charge" so straight away I have less of my AU$250 to donate.

The the Charity has to convert L$ to AU$ another "commission" hit so they get still less of my original AU$250.

So did I donate in world - NO.

I went to one of the several places and donated directly, the Charity received the full AU$ 250.

For those wishing to donate to a Charity outside the country they live in to the best of my knowledge most Charities accept Visa/Mastercard/etc etc or have an online payment option.