“OK, Tom Hanks walks across the stage and thanks Nora Jones. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin will be on next – after the tape of Usher and The Roots.”
This is all a little bit crazy…
For the last week, Open’s 5-person volunteer team has been camped out in a windowless room at a huge TV studio in New York preparing the fundraising for Facebook Live’s first big telethon – in aid of our client the American Civil Liberties Union.
Like all good fundraisers, we tried to calculate how much we can raise. But we don’t know denominators or numerators. How many people will watch a four hour show on Facebook? How many will give? How much?
We don’t know. But we do know it’s going to be exciting. So please, tune in at midnight in the UK and watch it all happen.
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.