Thursday 29 February 2024

Devex: How virtual reality takes donors to the heart of development causes

A potential donor at a charity event in London takes off his virtual reality headset. He blinks a few times as his eyes readjust to the light. The immersive film he just watched transported him to Somaliland in East Africa, where he stood in the shelter of a family driven from their home by drought. It was a patchwork of plastic sheets and textiles tethered down by ropes, in a windy, dusty plain.

“The roof was so fragile,” he says, reaching up as if he were still in the hut. “It all felt so real. I’ve traveled a lot in Africa, but this experience has brought it all home.”

VR technology has existed for decades. But as the VR market expands — it is projected to grow from $25.11 billion last year to $165.91 billion by 2030 — so too has its use in global development fundraising and awareness-raising. An August 2023 survey of more than 300 U.K. charities and nongovernmental organizations found that 58% had used VR, augmented reality, or online games to encourage donations in the past year...

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