Fundraising is an essential, if not the most fundamental, aspect of running a nonprofit. Without adequate funding, nonprofit organizations would not achieve their missions or serve their communities.

However, the nonprofit sector is ever-changing. Leaders in the industry are always looking for new ways to attract donors and influence how much money they’re willing to donate.

The majority of nonprofits will use printed flyers, online campaigns, and email marketing tools to garner donations. However, one emerging technology, virtual reality (VR), is expected to cause shifts in how nonprofits fundraise and run their operations.

Below, we’re going to discuss VR’s role in the nonprofit sector, how it’s already being leveraged, and what nonprofits should anticipate for the future of their industry.

How Nonprofit Organizations Use VR

Digitization is happening in just about every industry worldwide. Whether for-profit or nonprofit, more organizations are considering how they may benefit from using the latest and greatest technologies.

For example, consider how revolutionary robotics and other types of tech are in the health care industry. Robots can now assist with surgeries, speed up operations, and provide doctors with more information to guide their decision-making processes.

VR is an advanced technology that continues to evolve. VR offers users a chance to have immersive experiences for gameplay, collaboration, learning new skills, and remote productivity. The VR sector is booming and expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.

Below, we’ll discuss some case studies regarding the use of VR in the nonprofit sector.

How Can AR & VR Empower Fundraising?

Attracts Donors

One of the primary benefits nonprofits can reap when using VR is to attract existing and potential donors. When nonprofits use VR, they show donors they’re following the latest trends, using funds to improve operational efficiency, and are willing to transform digitally.

The nonprofit sector faces an increasingly competitive environment. In one lab experiment, subjects watched a fundraising video on two devices — a VR headset and a tablet. The study found that donation intention was significantly greater when subjects watched the video through the VR headset.

Enhances Storytelling

A crucial part of nonprofit operations is to tell a story jam-packed with emotion. As mentioned earlier, it’s common for nonprofit organizations to rely on traditional marketing campaigns. However, VR can bring a nonprofit’s cause to life.

Every nonprofit can tailor the VR experience to their liking. Take the VR experience developed for Alzheimer’s Research UK, for example.

It’s called A Walk Through Dementia — and it shows donors what daily life with dementia is like and depicts the challenges patients with dementia face, such as reading a grocery list or counting change. This places donors in the shoes of those they’d be helping by providing donations. Using VR, nonprofits can share their mission and tug on donors’ heartstrings.

Boosts Nonprofit Donations

When nonprofits use VR in innovative ways, it can help garner more donations from existing and potential donors. Keep in mind that VR is a capital-intensive technology and does require training. However, it’s commonly understood that as technology improves and becomes more widely used, the price of implementation tends to drop.

As VR costs decline, nonprofits will benefit from implementing it into their operations. One nonprofit, Pencils of Promise, raised over $2 million during its Wall Street Gala. Wealthy donors took advantage of VR headsets and were able to get an inside look at a schoolhouse in rural Ghana. Naturally, seeing a disheartening situation can influence donors to donate more, which can be transformative for nonprofits.

Will VR Revenue Exceed $22 Billion by 2025?

Visualizing the Impact of Donations

Because VR is a new medium, donors can better understand their donations’ impact on the folks who benefit from a nonprofit’s goods and services. Nonprofit leaders know that explaining the scale of an issue or how impactful one donation is can be a challenge.

VR can help nonprofits overcome this ongoing challenge. When donors can see how their donations impact others through a VR headset, they can visualize data in a way not possible before.

It’s reported that 64% of nonprofits plan on investing in new technology this year, and VR will certainly be something for them to consider. It’ll be necessary for nonprofits to calculate the ROI with VR implementation and find specific ways to enhance their existing operations.

It’s clear that VR is slowly but surely carving out its place in several industries, and the nonprofit sector is no exception. Nonprofit organizations should consider leveraging VR.

Expect VR to Become More Popular in the Nonprofit Sector

While it may be costly to implement and requires programming and photography skills, conveying a compelling message is the most significant benefit to reap.

As famed communications theorist Marshall McLuhan once said, “the medium is the message.” Nonprofits looking for new ways to reach potential audiences should consider VR a useful medium, especially as it improves.

April Miller is a senior writer at ReHack Magazine and editorial contributor at AR Insider. She specializes in VR/AR, IoT, and business technology. See her work here and follow her @rehackmagazine.

Header image credit: Vinicius “amnx” Amano on Unsplash 

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