The Impact Of Virtual Reality For Charities

While the focus at vCAD is on architecture, real estate, engineering, design – any industry that benefits from converting CAD models to VR and 3D experiences – we keep a close eye on how other areas utilize VR and 3D, and are cheering on those that use it for good.

We’ve seen firsthand how impactful it is to step into a model with VR and 3D and be able to experience, explore, and truly relate to the space. So we know that virtual reality for charity is a thoroughly impressive and effective experience to connect people to a cause.

Virtual Reality and Charity

There are so many charitable organizations raising money for worthy causes. How does an organization break through the noise and donor fatigue? It’s become essential to capture the attention of donors, evoke empathy, and inspire a contribution. Many groups have achieved these goals with the use of virtual reality.

Often fundraising efforts are for people in other areas, experiencing a difficulty donors can’t relate to. With VR it is possible to make potential donors feel as though they are actually there, and experiencing the tragedy firsthand. It’s a realistic experience allowing you to move around, interact with others, and step into the shoes of someone in need.

Virtual reality has been used to show the lives of people in refugee camps, living in impoverished locations, hoping for a higher education, struggling to fulfill basic needs, facing homelessness, battling a disability, and more. On the flipside, VR has also been used to show exactly where donations are going and the impact a contribution makes.

These immersive VR videos tell real stories, show the problem and solution, and evoke empathy through a firsthand experience. Virtual reality creates an emotional and inspirational connection that compels people to act when they remove the headset.

The extreme success story: one gentleman increased his donation from $60K to $400K after watching a Charity Water video.

Charities Using Virtual Reality

Several charities are now incorporating virtual reality fundraising and promotional efforts. The content is more compelling and the returns are promising. Inviting people to step into the shoes of those the group is trying to help is a moving and motivational approach. Here are just a few of the nonprofits leading the charge with VR technology:

Unicef launched the popular ‘Clouds over Sidra’ featuring life in a refugee camp, which raised $3.8 billion – this was twice their projected fundraising goals!

Charity Water made waves with a film from the point of view of a 13 year-old girl in Africa who collects dirty water every day for her family. This inspired people to increase their donations and the organization raised far more than expected.

National Autistic Society shows (and allows users to feel) the distress and sensory impact of the world for someone with autism, stirring empathy.

Alzheimer’s Research UK took a similar approach to raise awareness for dementia. A walk through dementia features different scenarios and the challenges sufferers face.

Pencils of Promise transformed donors to a classroom in Ghana, showing the students and effect education has on a community, helping raise $1.9 million for schools in Africa.

Oxfam shared a VR story through the eyes of 11 year-old, Evelyn, searching for clean water in Kenya. Users can walk in her shoes to experience the problem and solution.

Cancer Research created several VR videos featuring work in their labs, events, and more to show donors exactly where their money is going and the impact it makes.


“Virtual reality is an empathy machine. It’s an opportunity to put the viewer in someone else’s shoes and create an active experience for them that offers a fresh take on traditional messaging. It’s immersive, creating an experience for supporters.”

–Rob Marks, studio manager at Raw Productions