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VR for Nonprofits: How to Use This Brand New Technology to Boost Fundraising!

Nonprofits are always going to have to fundraise for their organization. It’s part of the gig. 

But, what we love about nonprofit fundraising (and why we started Nonprofit-Apps) is all the technology that can help make fundraising even better. 

Because the whole purpose of raising funds for your cause is to make a difference. But sometimes, people need a better understanding of what’s happening in the world before they see how you can help. 

That’s where VR for nonprofits comes into the picture! 

We are so thrilled to chat about this one with you, today. Because we think VR for nonprofits is going to be one of the up-and-coming nonprofit trends in the next few years! 

A person wears a VR headset at a nonprofit in-person event.

What is VR for Nonprofits? 

But, first! What is VR for nonprofits? 

VR, or virtual reality, is a technology that fully immerses someone into a certain scenario. They’re becoming crazy popular in the video gaming world because they’re allowing players to “live” the experience. 

With virtual reality, the player or participant puts on a headset that covers their ears and eyes. In the headset, they’re transported to an entirely different world! Whether it’s the new Jurassic Park or it’s Harry Potter, they’re able to experience an entirely new reality. 

While VR is making waves in the gaming industry, who’s to say it can only stay there? Why not start bringing it to nonprofits? 

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

We’ve heard these terms used interchangeably, so before we get any further let’s address this. What is the difference between augmented reality for nonprofits and virtual reality for nonprofits? 

Augmented Reality: 

Augmented reality uses a device like a tablet or a smartphone camera. Through the camera, the natural world around them changes to include digital elements. A great example of this is the 2016 game Pokemon Go. 

This app that was available for smartphones allowed people to pull up the camera on the app. Through that camera, people could see the natural world around them. And they could also see digital elements, like pokemon, that allowed them to interact with the game. 

Virtual Reality: 

On the other hand, virtual reality is completely immersive. With a headset that covers their eyes and ears, the user is transported to a different world entirely. They can interact with this world as they wear the headset. Rather than interacting with a blend of the real world and a digital one at the same time, virtual reality creates a completely simulated world for the user. 

What Can AR and VR Do for Nonprofits? 

Are we sounding all Year 3000 (a la the Jonas Brothers), yet? We know, VR can sound super-advanced and way too futuristic for it to be usable. 

But, it can be usable! VR for nonprofits is an awesome addition to your nonprofit fundraising efforts. Here’s what it can do for your campaigns: 

1. Lets Your Supporters Get Firsthand Experience

A lot of times, people need to “see it to believe it.” Whether you’re discussing how climate change is affecting the oceans, or you’re fundraising to help save the rainforest. Whether you’re talking about bringing fresh, clean water to people in countries without. Or you’re talking about the effects of dementia on elderly people. 

No matter what it is you’re fundraising for, many people can’t quite wrap their minds around things that they have no firsthand experience with. 

For someone who has clean, fresh drinking water, understanding that there are thousands of people who do not may be unfathomable. 

With VR for nonprofits, you can show them just how much of a reality it is. Using this nonprofit technology is a wonderful way to add impact to your fundraising efforts. 

2. Makes Storytelling More Believable

This one goes right along with the one before it. Sharing your nonprofit’s story is already impactful. Because we know storytelling is one of the greatest ways to draw connections with people. 

But then adding on, not just video, but virtual reality for people to experience it firsthand along with your storytelling? That can really drive the cause home for many potential supporters. 

3. Attracts More Supporters 

When you add VR for nonprofits to your fundraising efforts, you’re adding an incredible new way of engaging with your supporters. 

That creates a one-of-a-kind, impactful experience. And more and more people are looking for exactly that when they are trying to find a cause to support. 

Creating that kind of experience is excellent for keeping your nonprofit top of mind. When a potential supporter is ready to make a contribution, who are they going to remember? Probably your organization because you went above and beyond to make an interaction that allowed them to see firsthand what your cause is doing! 

And all of that attracts more supporters to your organization. It raises awareness of your nonprofit and boosts funds for your campaigns. 

How Can Nonprofits Use Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality? 

The best way to use augmented reality or virtual reality is to narrow down the story you want to tell. 

Are you taking someone across the world? Or is your cause focused directly on your local community? 

That will help you determine which to use – augmented reality or virtual reality for nonprofits. Once you know which one will better support your story, it’s time to find nonprofit VR software to support it. 

With all of that selected, it’s time to create the experience you want your supporters to see when they don the headset or open the app. This is a great time to gather footage from your latest treks in the field as you work for your cause. Even using some of the best video marketing tools for nonprofits is great for creating a virtual reality experience. 

When everything’s ready, it’s time to purchase or rent the equipment you need. If you have an upcoming nonprofit fundraising event, having VR for your organization is an awesome idea for it. 

If you decide to use AR for nonprofits, you may find it’s a little more cost-effective. You won’t need all of the equipment for your participants. Instead, you can upload everything to an app. This is also a great idea to use in your nonprofit mobile app if you’re thinking of creating one! 

Examples of Virtual Reality for Nonprofits: 

Is this all just a dream? A vision of the future? Or are nonprofits actually using VR for their organization? 

We promise you, it’s the latter. More organizations are adding in VR experiences to help their supporters see firsthand the causes they’re helping with! Here are just a few examples of VR for nonprofits: 

  • Pencils of Promise – This global community believes everyone deserves access to education. They’re working to improve that by building schools and education programs in countries like Guatemala, Ghana, and Laos. And they’re making more of an impact among their supporters by using VR to do it! During a Wall Street gala, they brought along VR headsets to show viewers the inside of a schoolhouse they were working on. And from that event, they raised $2 million. 
  • A Walk Through Dementia – Alzheimer’s Research UK showed the heartbreaking reality of what dementia is like by allowing users to experience it firsthand. And through the use of incredible nonprofit technology like Google Cardboard, people can experience this directly from their smartphone – no fundraising event required. 
  • Four Walls: Inside Syrian LivesRescue.org created a virtual reality experience to show viewers what it’s like to live in between homes in Syria. With Rashida Jones narrating the story, the virtual reality experience drives home the daily lives of Syrian refugees who are staying in Lebanon. 
A young woman uses a headset to participate in VR for nonprofits at a fundraising event.

VR for nonprofits doesn’t have to be something in the far-off, distant future. It can be right now! And your organization can feel the benefits of creating a closer experience and connection with your supporters. 

Want more related to this? Check out these posts! 

Nonprofit Mobile Apps: 8 Reasons to Consider One for Your Organization

The 5 Best Tools for Video Marketing for Nonprofits to Help with Storytelling

Nonprofit Technology Trends: Here Are 9 Hot Trends in Nonprofits

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