Amnesty contemplates moving into Second Life

Amnesty International is investigating fundraising and campaigning opportunities within online digital world Second Life.

If Amnesty goes ahead with the plan, it is likely to be the first UK voluntary body to use Second Life, the web-based virtual world that allows people to live an alternative life through a personally designed avatar.

The site, which was established in 2003, has more than 1.5 million registered users worldwide, and numbers are reported to be growing by 20 per cent a month.

Second Life has its own currency, Linden Dollars, which can be converted into US dollars or UK pounds at online currency exchanges. The virtual world already hosts brands including Adidas, Vodafone and the BBC, which recently recreated its One Big Weekend event for Second Life.

The American Cancer Society has held a virtual version of its Relay For Life national fundraising event within Second Life.

Amnesty is yet to decide whether the move is viable and has not established a timescale.

"At this stage, we are simply investigating ways for Amnesty to become involved and it is very early days," said a spokesman. "We don't really know that much about it yet, but we are keen to look at all new ways to communicate with young people. We hope to have a presence there as soon as possible."

Dean Russell, client services director at voluntary sector specialist new media agency iConcertina, said Second Life offered opportunities for charities. "Experience has shown that users of online communities such as MySpace are open to fundraising and campaigning," he said.

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