Macmillan Cancer Support has woken up and smelled the coffee, albeit of the virtual kind. The charity’s “World’s Biggest Coffee Morning” fundraising event will later this month be held in Second Life for the first time.
The event in Second Life on 28 September will involve more than just serving virtual coffee all day to visitors. Second Life developer New Business Horizons has persuaded designers from across Second Life to donate items to charity to raise money in a “World’s Biggest Coffee Morning auction”.
To promote the event giant coffee cups have been placed at strategic locations all over SL to attract donors: when a donation is made, the donor takes a giant spoon, stirs the cup and wins a free virtual t-shirt together with one of the designers’ randomly selected gifts, which itself will have a value of up to several thousand Linden dollars, the currency of Second Life.
The event will be the first to take place in the new Second Life Macmillan cancer information centre. This was created for Macmillan in Second Life’s ‘Blue Horizon’ business park as a joint venture between New Business Horizons (NBH) and media producer Phoenix Film & Television.
The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is one of the largest fundraising events in the UK. Last year nearly two million people hosted or attended coffee events across the UK and raised over £6.7 million to help people affected by cancer.
Once the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is over, Macmillan will continue to offer the fully functioning Macmillan cancer information centre. Here, users affected by cancer will be able to make use of resources such as a range of information about cancer and emotional support. Alongside the services, visitors will also be able to go shopping at the retail area, where they can buy real world Macmillan merchandise and gifts from the online catalogue.
Alan Haymes, whose avatar in Second Life is “Doctor Hickman”, of NBH explained: “When Macmillan came to us for its cancer information centre, we could see the need immediately for something that wasn’t just a presence but was there for practical, down to earth reasons. For example, many people affected by cancer do not know where to go to find all the information they need on financial and emotional matters; in Second Life they can benefit hugely from the anonymity of an avatar, an adopted persona, when visiting the centre.
Wendy W. Fowler, innovations manager for Macmillan, added: “We had been considering our involvement with Second Life in a bid to engage and support even more people affected by cancer. New Business Horizons has really cracked it by creating an original presence for us in Second Life which will provide both services for people affected by cancer, as well as a fundraising mechanism for Macmillan.”