It’s easy to feel wary about the use of virtual reality in fundraising. Is the cost worth it? Is it just a passing fad? And, in showing supporters things they normally wouldn’t get to see, is it a bit gratuitous and distasteful?
But we’re operating in an increasingly crowded market, so finding new ways to engage supporters is vital – especially as we look to diversify channels of conversion. If handled sensitively, VR offers the opportunity to increase empathy and bring donors much closer to the work they are helping.
Too Much Information is a short VR film by the Autistic Society, which puts donors in the shoes of Alex, a young autistic child in a busy shopping centre. It gives a moving insight into the sensory overload many autistic children deal with every day. To watch, you simply download the free app and use Google Cardboard or other VR goggles – but to add even more relevance to the film’s theme the charity is also touring it around shopping centres around the UK.
Elsewhere, there have been other VR ventures on an even larger scale, and the results look extremely promising. Unicef’s phenomenal Clouds over Sidra, which shows viewers the realities of being a child refugee, helped to raised £3.5 billion at a conference in Kuwait – far more than the projected figure of £1.8 billion. It has now been screened in 40 countries worldwide. WWF’s Tiger Experience, which allowed donors to ‘become’ a ranger and come face-to-face with wild tigers, attracted a 50% increase in numbers of new donors.
It will be interesting to see how immersive technology develops over the next few years but, in the meantime, there are learnings we can take from it right now. At a time when donors have never been more cynical about the difference their support makes, it clearly pays to make them feel part of the story.
I think the above is pretty self explanatory. You may even have heard about it already. But what you might not know is that a crack team from Open is consulting with the show’s producers and the ACLU to make it as effective as possible.
I can’t tell you too much more. I’m probably being hacked as I type this. So just head over to Facebook, like the page and get ready to see something very, very special.
Open’s mission is to bring people together to change the world. So when our friends at Apple asked us to help them introduce Apple Pay to UK charities, it wasn’t a difficult decision. Nor, to be fair, was it a difficult process.
We emailed our friends, acquaintances and some people we wished we knew better from a bunch of amazing organisations. Then, once we had them all in a room together, Tim did a little speech and the folks from Apple blew everyone’s socks off with the possibilities.
And today, just in time for Comic Relief and, we hope, some big appeals for South Sudan, Apple Pay opened its platform for UK charities.
We’re happy to have helped. And we’re even more excited about what we’ll be able to do now that a whole lot of friction just got removed from a whole bunch of donors…
Watch this space…