After 18 months in a pandemic world, where the world’s richest got richer, everyday people were confined to their homes, and the hardest hit got hit even harder, Meta (formerly Facebook) announced the Metaverse – a virtual world, where anyone can live, work, and play.
Before we all jump headfirst into our Oculus’ ready to explore, what about those who can’t, those who Philanthropy is meant to uplift – from the digital divide to the lack of living wages that would allow the purchase of technology, let alone internet services? As we work to break cycles of poverty in the real world, will the Metaverse create new cycles and send our communities spinning in old ones?
In a decentralized world, how can we ensure that the systemic and racial injustices that communities now face won’t flourish in this new “reality”?
As the world moves forward, Philanthropy has several opportunities to ensure no one is left behind.
Move beyond the status quo
What makes the Metaverse and all virtual worlds interesting is their ability to be whatever they want to be. People from all walks of life converge in a space, agree on how it should operate, how currency exchanges, and the value of things. There is say, there is ownership, there is equality. Currently, traditional Philanthropy exists in a power vacuum where those with funds are dictating how said funds show up in communities. Let’s decentralize the centralized. The Metaverse gives us an opportunity to move away from traditional practices and status quos, government regulations, and harmful practices. The Metaverse provides a way to start anew, learn from others and share power to create not only a world but the necessary impact.
Provide support and funds to the community
NFTs are non-fungible tokens, any digital item from music to art, significant sports clips to virtual land. Non Fungible means that their value is unique and cannot be duplicated. What is interesting about NFTs is that when they are bought and sold, the original creator gets royalties. What if community art was truly that – community art – created by the community with the support of Philanthropy to get a list with royalties coming back to the community. What if a community was able to buy their own community and make it the utopia they needed? In turn, nonprofits, governments, and foundations could learn about their needs and wants, to make them a reality here in the now.
Another way to provide support and funds is through cryptocurrencies – virtual or digital currencies that can be used in decentralized spaces. Currently, there are more than 8,000 cryptocurrencies that can be used in the Metaverse and virtual spaces, as well as in our actual reality. What makes some more valuable than others is their use. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and even Doge and Matic can be used to buy real goods and services. A recent study stated Black and LatinX households face banking inequities and lack of access to financial products and services. Banks find it difficult to meet these challenges. While there has been a rise in cryptocurrency donations, what if there was a cryptocurrency for Philanthropy? A coin backed by Philanthropy that can support community-led efforts, or even an ecosystem where crypto is provided to the community as a currency to empower small businesses and provide access to the goods, services, and financial access people need.
Create the reality your priorities envisioned
A look at the history of Philanthropy opens one’s eyes to its foundation, which was not to actually uplift people and change disparate situations but to provide charity and make everyone feel good with a temporary effort. While luxury brands and corporations are getting in on the ground floor, where is the support for black and brown businesses and impoverished communities? The Metaverse can provide a chance to start anew, to create the world we hope for, and provide an opportunity for those in the real world to be uplifted in the process.
This piece is by no means expert or investment advice regarding the Metaverse or cryptocurrency. However, it is a look at how Philanthropy can begin thinking about its role in the Metaverse, what possible efforts could look like as the world shifts, and they work to uplift and support the communities their priorities focus on.