Virtual Reality (VR) & fundraising

26 Jul , 2017  

Text: Arturo Coego / Cover: Jonas Tana

I think Lucy Gower is right when she says that «right now the only thing that is certain is uncertainty». Good news is that this context is perfect for disruptive innovation. 

The Third Sector, not only in the UK but also all around the world, is going through a transition period. Charities constantly need to find new resources to survive and keep working hard for a social cause: A «we’ve always done it this way» approach doesn’t work anymore.

In the middle of this neverending revolution in fundraising, immersive technology is set to play a key role. In fact, virtual reality (VR) has already entered the mainstream (e.g. Play Station VR). And this changes everything.

Charities are exploring new ways of fundraising: A «we’ve always done it this way» approach doesn’t work anymore.

Fundraising is based on storytelling. And every storytelling strategy needs a suitable format. Leaflets were good, emailing is still effective, videos are great. But VR is a whole new thing: The audience is not an spectator but actually part of the scene. Your potential donors are not watching the movie, they are experiencing it. If fundraising is about triggering emotions, VR just makes this process easier.

It is a matter of perception. The potential donor is now a participant. And you know what they say, there is no such thing as a neutral observer.

UNICEF has already pilot tested VR through Clouds over Sidra, the story of a 12 year old girl who has lived in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan since the summer of 2013. UNICEF highlights that VR not only increases propensity to stop, engage and donate after engagement but also the average donation value. And best of all, you just need a smartphone and a box-viewer to experience it.

«Karamoja rising» is the latest story available on UNICEF 360 (App store/Google Play)

New CSR Opportunities

Fresh thinking is essential here. Using VR to raise the funds of your charity might boost your chances to set up new partnerships with other agencies e.g. private companies, sport teams, universities, local governments, etc.

For instance, Oxfam UK has teamed up with Samsung to implement its VR technology and facilitate a trustworthy bond between the charity and its donors. How does it work? Basically, Oxfam UK’s staff members offer customers in charity shops to put on the VR headsets and see how the British organisation spends its donations. Everybody wins.

In conclusion, VR gives you an excelent opportunity to show your impact to potential investors and to all your internal & external stakeholders e.g. clients, suppliers, press and media, trade unions, employees, community, government, etc.

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