Nonprofits and social causes need new ways to capture attention, funding, and supporters. There is increasing competition for fundraising, along with numerous barriers in getting in front of the right audience. For example, organizations that work internationally cannot take all their donors abroad with them and into the field. There is a need to build creative and experiential ways for people to experience a nonprofit’s work without necessarily traveling there or visiting the physical location.
VR is an incredibly powerful and sophisticated technology, but is still underutilized by the nonprofit and social impact sectors. VR has also been scientifically proven to increase empathy. Stanford University found that VR can enable people to be more compassionate – for longer – compared to other types of media. Additionally more attention is focused on VR for impact, sustainability and advocacy. Powerful and emotional VR experiences can be scaled for the nonprofit world, to enable them to reach new donors and share their work in a totally innovative, meaningful and immersive way.
The Hope for Haiti VR App:
Hope for Haiti is a nonprofit organization, focused on poverty alleviation in the south of Haiti for the past 33 years. We always ask the question – if we can’t bring everyone to Haiti, is there a way to bring Haiti to everyone?
Hope for Haiti’s team collaborated with the VR studio FXG to create an immersive and experiential VR app modeled off one of their partner schools in rural Haiti, optimized for the Oculus Quest. The space is designed to not only provide an engaging and hands-on experience, but also to give users an alternative (and more positive) perception of Haiti, by building an emotional connection to the environment. Users can explore the three room school and landscape and interact with different elements such as a well, chalkboard, flag pole, etc. There is a dedicated classroom that contains multimedia elements to highlight the work of Hope for Haiti in the community through video, photos, audio, and engaging vignettes.
In addition, Hope for Haiti hosted an NFT auction to raise funds for earthquake response in Haiti, which struck the country in August 2021. Select NFTs were then recreated in VR and “hung” in one of the classrooms, which can still be seen. The NFTs raised several thousand dollars for Hope for Haiti’s work and they are now organizing larger NFT drops to raise support. Hope for Haiti also plan to create an NFT starter toolkit to give Haitian artists the tools and resources to mint their own NFT artwork, as a way to generate critical income.
The feedback and reception have been extremely positive and Hope for Haiti is one of the few nonprofits using VR as a tool to share their mission. The app exposes users to the country of Haiti, Hope for Haiti’s work, has raised their visibility and connected their organization to new supporters and donors. The Hope for Haiti VR app is available for public download on Sidequest and pre-approved for Oculus App Lab. The app has been featured in some of the largest VR industry publications such as VRScout, Upload VR and on the Voices of VR podcast. Hope for Haiti and FXG presented the app at AWE’s 2021 conference in Santa Clara.
You can download the app here.
ORGANIZATION: Hope For Haiti