The strides made in innovation and technology today, go hand in hand with the need for nonprofits to continue relaying their work and mission to audiences in a more powerful way.Videos have proved time and again to be

Videos have proved time and again to be reliable tool for Nonprofits in engaging their audiences, whether donors or volunteers, in a way that cause them to participate actively in your work.

The video experience has however been scaled up and intensified through Virtual Reality (VR). With VR the user can be ‘projected’ into the story environment and experience first-hand the feelings, ideas and detail that the organization plans to describe. VR solves the persistent question and closes the gap of how Nonprofits can actually get their audience to intimately know, feel and understand the reasons behind their work. The viewer can look around and walk through spaces, and experience in person the immediacy or urgency of the problem or issue at hand. This immersive experience generates impact and emotion to a degree that forges an unforgettable bond between your audience and your work. It also leads to a real change in perception and behavior. Using Virtual Reality to place the users in the environment, impacts their senses to a greater degree. This allows the experience to remain etched in memory for a long time.

Virtual Reality greatly increases the probability that action will be taken as it brings more life and meaning to stories. It solves the problem of how to transport audiences from their lives, into the real spaces in which you work, where the impact of factors such as a harsh physical environment may not be effectively conveyed in other storytelling channels.

The market for Virtual Reality is expected to grow, and become dominant. Most people immediately engage with this concept as it potential is immediately understood even when used once. The equipment and applications needed to experience VR are also becoming popular and widely available to consumers. These tools make it possible to ‘walk through’ all the content shown on a screen. Research shows that users are more engaged when watching immersive content. How then, would Virtual Reality impact the work of nonprofits?

Your Audience Sees and ‘Feels’.

The use of VR allows you to pair a powerful story about your work with groundbreaking technology. By bringing the user directly into the situation you directly influence all their senses during the experience. This is what then changes perception. In Virtual Reality, the viewer is no longer a distant spectator; he or she also gets to feel the impact of the issues you bring out. VR brings them into the story, so they feel what your beneficiaries encounter in their daily lives.

VR impacts Memory

VR is able to simulate for viewers the challenging physical conditions that exist where you work.  These, first time feelings and experiences form unforgettable memories that enable them to see your cause in a much brighter light. They are able then, to imagine for themselves the real impact their involvement would have.

VR builds Authenticity

By involving the audience in the story. VR as the ability to build authenticity by creating a transparency in ways that other mediums can’t.

VR creates a sense of adventure

Storytelling requires the presence of certain elements such as the hook, to catch people’s attention. You can further leverage this through VR by bringing your audiences into a unique environment that sparks interest.VR has incredible potential. It takes you to places you could have never dreamed existed, and you have a vivid feeling of actually being there.” The ability to be able to explore any world, reality, or space allows for limitless possibilities.

This could be applicable where your work involves nature or unique wildlife and their habitats. When users see for themselves the beauty of a fragile environment, they will be inspired to act, to save it.

The more you can put the donor or activist in the story in a powerful way, the greater the impact is going to be. And VR is just an exciting way to do that.

VR for more than Storytelling

Imagine the effectiveness of VR used to train volunteers before they go out into the actual physical environment. It replaces costs relating to extensive field work which may be difficult to optimize in the real environment. If you however showcase the environment prior to the work, cost saving is exponential as possible problems are worked out in advance and all issues clarified.

Examples of VR applied in Cause Marketing

Charity: Water’s: The Source.

This nonprofit raised over $2.4 million in a day, because of the impact that the medium used (VR) had on them. Charity: Water showcased a 10-minute video of the life of an Ethiopian girl using SamsungGear VR. They were able to transport the audience of 400 attendees from their comfortable seats to rural Ethiopia to walk in the shoes of a teenage Ethiopian girl searching for water.

United Nations: Clouds Over Sidra.

This award winning VR film released in January 2015  was a first ever for the UN. It shows a twelve-year-old girl, Sidra in the Za’atari camp in Jordan, which hosts nearly 84,000 Syrian war refugees. It served to powerfully reveal the plight of vulnerable communities.

TOMS: Virtual Giving Trip.


TOMS is a shoe social enterprise, which launched a Virtual Giving Trip on Vrse, a virtual reality application available on the web. It allowed users to ‘see’ firsthand the work that their Giving Partners were doing in Peru and also allowed users to spend time with some of the children who had received the shoes.

Pencils of Promise.

This international education nonprofit used VR to showcase the transformative effect of education on the rural community of Toklokpo. Viewers were able to go through the experience of learning while sitting under a tree or in an unsound building. This film was 90 seconds long. Viewers were then able to see the impact of their contribution to Pencils of Promise; a new building in use by students. The film helped them raise 1.9 million dollars, and was recognized as critical to attracting more donors and corporate partners.

CrowdRise: Virtual “Giving Tower”

VR can be used to creatively contextualize and quantify scenarios for better understanding by the audience, as this nonprofit did during a Giving Tuesday campaign.

A virtual Giving Tower visually showcased the impact of giving; growing taller as more people around the world donated to different causes. Viewers were creatively engaged in the process.

They pointed their smartphone camera at a flat object to see the tower ‘appear’. The tower itself also unlocked virtual reality films of different causes that participants could watch. CrowdRise raised more than $6 million for different nonprofits.

Body Team 12

A virtual reality film, in this case, showed the impact on our health that Ebola had, on a global scale. It also recognized the efforts and direct involvement of young Liberians. The reality on the ground, of the Ebola outbreak, immediately and powerfully impacts viewers. In this way, it raised awareness and support for ongoing relief efforts. By relaying the facts surrounding the disease as they happened, it helped reduce stigma and any inaccurate information. Those willing to take action as volunteers could also do so.