Nonprofits Using VR to Build Awareness & Inspire Donations

April 5, 2017

A VR headset

Virtual Reality is rich with potential for nonprofits.

In addition to emerging as a new entertainment platform, nonprofits and news outlets have begun using virtual reality to tell impactful stories about causes and situations around the world. By bringing the reality of a situation to the public, virtual reality is also becoming a tool to fuel donations and support nonprofit work.

Virtual reality stands to have a major role for nonprofits as it becomes more widely used. According to the Washington Post, virtual reality is “the best medium to date for evoking genuine empathy for [a nonprofit’s] mission, whether it be medical research, global education or humanitarian relief.” Director Chris Milk echoes this, stating “It connects humans to other humans in a profound way that I’ve never seen before,” in his TED Talk “How virtual reality can create the ultimate empathy machine“.

Even after donations have been made, VR has the benefit of allowing supporters to feel the results of their donations and stay connected to the cause.  VR taps into two essential nonprofit fundraising concepts — storytelling and empathy marketing.

Nonprofits Using VR

Check out the following examples of nonprofits pioneering the use of virtual reality to bring to life the causes they fight for:

Alzheimer’s Research UK
Alzheimer’s Research UK

Alzheimer’s Research UK created a virtual reality experience from the perspective of someone with Alzheimer’s in an effort to raise awareness and empathy for those with the disease.

VR for Good

VR for Good

VR for Good is Oculus’ “social good initiative” in which the company paired nonprofits with filmmakers to create VR experiences to air at the Sundance Film Festival and select events.
Charity:Water
charity:water

Charity:Water, a nonprofit that aims to provide clean water for people around the world, created a virtual reality movie showing the life of a 13-year-old girl and her family in Ethiopia, who are shown receiving clean water for the first time.

Pencils of Promise

Pencils of Promise

Education nonprofit Pencils of Promise created a virtual reality film that transports viewers to a rural Ghanan school house, and demonstrates why donations are needed.

Amnesty International UK

Amnesty International UK
The virtual reality platform built by Amnesty International UK shows viewers the bombed streets of Aleppo and the experience of the people living there.

The United Nations

Clouds Over Sidra

The UN partnered with filmmaker Chris Milk to create Clouds Over Sidra, a virtual reality film that showcases the experiences of a 12-year-old girl in a Syrian refugee camp. The film was created in an attempt to demonstrate the urgency of this global crisis.


The virtual reality revolution is only beginning. How can your nonprofit make use of this technology today or in the days to come? Tell us in the comments!

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