Posted by Pamela Kilzer


With the turn of a new year, technology has expanded rapidly and only continues to grow. Due to lack of resources and funds, nonprofit organizations often feel left behind in this quickly developing technological environment.

However, using technology in fundraising and marketing efforts has countless advantages. Augmented reality offers one such technology with huge benefits for your nonprofit.

As a new technology, augmented reality has gained notable recognition within recent years. It provides a live view of something in the real world, augmented by some form of computer-generated overlay. This overlay can be seen through a digital device, such as a camera on a smartphone or tablet, special glasses or headset, and could be anything from an image or video, to data or an audio track. Augmented reality blends the real world and virtual reality to modify the viewer's perception of his or her surroundings.

This technology sounds great, but how can it benefit your nonprofit? Turns out, in a lot of ways. Check out these benefits augmented reality technology can offer your nonprofit organization (NPO).

Augmented reality creates an empathetic experience.

First and foremost, augmented reality transports your NPO constituents to the forefront of your cause, showing them firsthand the realities your nonprofit experiences every day. This kind of approach establishes a direct personal relationship between your organization and potential volunteers and donors, garnering their trust and promoting your mission.

The NPO charity: water provides one example, using augmented reality at their December 2015 annual black tie fundraising banquet. Guests of the event were allotted augmented reality headsets which virtually transported them to a small village in Ethiopia. With augmented reality, they were taken through a week in the life of a 13-year-old Ethiopian girl, and saw her family's struggle for clean water firsthand. Guests were so moved and inspired by the experience, the night ended in a total fundraising contribution of $2.4 million.

While charity: water's event may be larger scale than your NPO's capacity, it offers a shining example of how augmented reality can reach constituents’ emotions. Rather than telling about your cause, it shows them, puts them in the middle of the action and creates a powerful impact.

Augmented reality gives viewers real-time information.

Not only does augmented reality tug on constituents' heartstrings, but it can also be used to present up-to-date information in an innovative way. Augmentation occurs in real time, therefore your nonprofit organization has the option to update its augmented reality experience as it goes, for viewers to learn the most current facts.

The breast cancer nonprofit CoppaFeel! gave one example with their 2012 3D boob billboard campaign. The campaign featured a poster for their cause advocating for breast examination. Then upon further inspection, viewers could use the Blippar app on their smart devices to scan the poster and see an even more interactive design, including current statistics, social media pages and a friendly suggestion to “Name Your Boobs,” encouraging women to conduct regular self-breast examinations.

This type of real-time information presents constituents with current facts in an interactive way, and promotes your cause through more than one medium.

Augmented reality has fun while being serious.

Of course, the greatest perk of augmentation shows your NPO's funny side, while still seriously promoting your mission. Your nonprofit organization has the option to be creative with its augmented reality—the more interactive, the better. This gets constituents involved in a fun way, while showing everything your nonprofit does to better its community.

When your nonprofit stays up-to-date on the latest technology, it demonstrates your adaptivity. Constituents are more likely to be involved with a cause they identify with, and augmented reality literally reaches out to them through their technology and creates a connection. Using augmentation demonstrates your NPO as both a serious advocate for your cause and a worthwhile opportunity for constituents.

How does it work?

On a wide scale basis, augmented reality works through individuals’ personal electronic devices. Most for-profit and nonprofit organizations reach out to these devices through their company’s app. For example, the latest Pokémon Go craze used an app in which players could download to see the virtual Pokémon living among them.

If your nonprofit already has an app or aspires to build one, augmented reality offers one route to go. Whether it’s through a custom app, a public app (e.g., Blippar) or providing virtual reality headsets to constituents, your NPO has a variety of ways to get in on the action.

How can your nonprofit get started?

Does your organization want to get started with augmented reality? The first step is simple: Think of your constituents' needs and how they relate to augmented reality. What goal do you have for your NPO, and how can augmented reality help you towards it? For nonprofits, augmented reality needs to have a real, valuable use for the organization and its members. Decide on the use it can have for your NPO.

Second, if your nonprofit isn't ready to create its own app or start using augmented reality right now, that's okay. Set yourself up for the future of technology by preparing your data and content to embrace the upcoming opportunity. Many experts predict within a few years consumers will expect information about real and virtual objects in their environment to be readily available on their phones, smart glasses or earpieces. By preparing your organization's materials today for convergence, you will set yourself up for future success in your cause.

Whether it's through an interactive experience at an annual convention, a social networking promotion or an empathy-driven print and app campaign, augmented reality has benefits readily available for your nonprofit organization. With augmented reality, you can create a virtual 3D experience for constituents to engage in from wherever they are, further driving your cause and sharing your mission.

Help your NPO get involved in the technology craze this year by exploring the mixed world of augmented reality. By embracing the virtual world, you can further impact the real world.

Interested in learning more ways to market your nonprofit organization through technology? Firespring is here to help! We offer useful webinars, materials and seminars on how your NPO can market itself to further its cause. Learn more by giving us a call at 877.447.8941 or email hello@firespring.org.


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