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VERTU (Virtual Economies Realizing True Usefullness) was the first organized group in Second Life to raise money in-world for "real life" non-profit organizations. Founded by Bhodi Silverman, but fueled by the creative energies of such SL Luminaries as Neph Protagonist, Frances Chung, Fallingwater Cellardoor, Eddie Escher, Baccara Rhodes, Malachi Petunia and many more. Done in partnership with the now-defunct Gaming Open Market, VERTU pulled off three campaigns. The first was for The EFFand raised $1,768. The founding members of VERTU and the community at large were shocked by the success of this first effort. Two subsequent campaigns, one for Heifer International and one for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. (Money from this campaign was donated to The Red Cross, but it was not raised in their name.) Over $5,000 was raised for the Katrina victims, although it has been erroneously reported as $2,000 in interviews with Corey Linden.
Towards the end of the Katrina drive, founder Bhodi Silverman suffered an illness and was unable to continue to oversee the organization. Shortly there-after, Gaming Open Market closed their doors and an integral piece of VERTU's accountability safeguards disappeared with them. (Gaming Open Market had provided a third-party tracking system that assured donors that their gifts reached the intended recipients. The Linden system for currency exchange, by removing the intermediary, created an increased risk of fraud. These two events combined lead the remaining members of VERTU to decide not to pursue any additional fundraising after the Katrina event.
VERTU's success was proof that the Second Life community to could effect real world outcomes. Many others have since moved into the SL non-profit arena and had even more stellar results and no doubt many more will eclipse the current efforts as SL grows and prospers.
--Bhodi 13:30, 13 Dec 2006 (EST)