AR Apps Can Increase the Effectiveness of Fundraising for Charities and Nonprofits

Anastasia Morozova
Chief Operating Officer

Often, due to the lack of initial funding and resources, nonprofit organizations cannot afford to launch massive promotional campaigns to attract attention to their cause.

However, more and more charitable organizations have started to recognize the benefits of using advanced technologies.

One of our articles is dedicated to the possibilities that VR can bring to charities. But, augmented reality (AR) can also offer nonprofits a substantial set of benefits.

Unfortunately, just a photo exhibition or a compelling story is often not sufficient to get enough awareness or hit the fundraising goal.

Therefore, to convey the problem faster and more efficiently, charitable organizations need a more engaging and interactive solution.

Just like VR, augmented reality is a tool that can help nonprofits gain more attention and make people empathize with the problem.

By adding an extra layer to the reality, AR provides significant opportunities for charitable organizations to create a more immersive environment for the supporters and show all the ins and outs of your cause.

Let’s take a closer look at how exactly augmented reality can facilitate the work of nonprofit organizations and help them reach their goals.

ar app development charity

Effective awareness-building

The more people know about the problem, the easier it is to solve it.

The first and foremost mission of an NPO is to raise awareness and understanding of the problem the organization is attempting to resolve.

With the help of AR apps, charities can cover more ground and get more people involved. And usually, the more people are aware of the problem and can clearly see the forefront of the issue addressed, the more donations charities can expect.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s Armenia and a Yerevan-based AR/VR app development company organized a campaign to draw more public attention to the problem of endangered species.

It was called “Take a Photo with the Leopard” and aimed to spread the information about Caucasian leopards, which face a threat of extinction due to extermination and natural habitat loss.

The campaign featured AR markers put throughout the Yerevan in the most foot-trafficked places. After downloading a special AR application, people could scan those markers and watch a 3D model of a Caucasian leopard appear in front of them.

augmented reality application nonprofits

But, for information to spread, the organizers asked users to share their results via Facebook and gave a prize (a mountain bike) to those people whose posts were the most informative and creative.

As a result, WWF-Armenia has managed to reach more than 100,000 people around the world and get tons of feedback.

They also strengthened the animal’s existing habitat management, created several new safe areas, and have taken the initiative to develop a network of leopard caretakers near their natural surroundings.

Another example of such augmented reality usage is a campaign launched by NHS in London and Birmingham. They needed 200,000 blood donors yearly and wanted to increase public awareness of the importance of blood donations.

They placed several interactive billboards that showed people who required a blood transfusion. Then, NHS volunteers offered pedestrians to put special stickers on their arms (where usually the needle goes). When hovered over with an iPhone, a 20-second simulation of blood donation was shown on its screen.

As the blood bag fills up, the ill-looking patient on the billboard becomes healthier, and then shows a personal “thank you” message. During that mini-simulation, the participants were also asked to register as blood donors.

Better empathetic experience

One of the principal aims of any charitable organization is to raise as much money as possible, and augmented reality can help NPOs to get more funding.

Combined with a better awareness spread, AR technologies can show any problem from a new angle, getting people deeper into the issue and its roots. What is more, you can easily put a “Donate” button in the augmented reality application to call people to action on the spot.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has developed an AR application called “Enter the room.”

Its primary goal is to introduce a first-person experience of the impending war on a visceral level. The AR app allows the user to enter a “portal” to the room of a child that is affected by the war and, in a timelapse, watch the changes it undergoes.

ICRC hopes that their AR application will allow people to get a better idea of what the realities of war are and what the afflicted children go through. “Enter the room” AR app is only available to iOS users.

One more example is The “White Noise” installation powered by the augmented reality that shows how consumerism prevails over the lifestyle that focuses on preserving natural resources.

It uses Twitter API to monitor the appearing hashtags related to consumption (like #coffee or #sushi) and conservation (like #recycling or #biodiversity) and changes the overlaid reef’s look based on which hashtags dominate.

Hence, they can show the environmental situation in a more interactive and tangible way. Which, in turn, can get the issue through more efficiently to the target audience.

Another way to get more funding is to collaborate with other enterprises.

Artist Baron Von Fancy teamed up with W Hotels to promote their hotel chain through custom-made GEO-based Snapchat filters during the PRIDE month. W Hotels had to donate $1 to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) each time the filters were used.

As a result of this collaboration, W Hotels donated $19,893 to support the efforts of the HRC.

Provide up-to-date information

Besides creating a more engaging experience, augmented reality can help inform people about the latest news and events in a new way.

As many of AR app processing is performed in real time, NPOs can push updates on the go as well to make sure that their users receive only the most current data.

CoppaFeel, a breast cancer nonprofit organization, has conducted a campaign encouraging women to go through breast examination.

Upon opening a special AR application and locking the phone on the billboard, people could see a more interactive 3D design with options to view current statistics, browse social media pages, and a suggestion to conduct regular self-breast checks.

Show that you are serious in a fun way

People like having fun, and for an NPO it is a great way to involve more constituents. You can carry on with your mission while being creative and providing more interactivity through augmented reality.

The city government of Buenos Aires decided to promote recycling through an AR game. Pedestrians were displayed on a massive screen on the street. While facing the screen, recycling bins appeared on their heads, and people could play the trash-catching game.

ar apps nonprofits

Via such a fun way, the city officials aimed to increase the awareness of a pressing ecological issue.

A nonprofit organization can show that it is flexible and adaptive by implementing the latest technologies like virtual and augmented reality. You can create a deeper connection with people by creating something that can identify with.

How to start using AR for charity?

In case you want to try out augmented reality and use it for a nonprofit organization, you will require some investments and technical skills.

Here are a few ways you can get into the non-profitable world of augmented reality.

1. Try out Snapchat geofilters

It is a ready-to-go platform that you can use to draw more attention to your charity activities. Regardless of whether it is a conference, a charity run or a fundraising campaign, geofilters can help you attract more attendees because they can be used only within the location of your main event.

GEO-based filters can provide a new level of interaction with those who support you and are very easy for people to share with one another.

Their main advantage is their price – approximately $5 per 20,000 square feet (which will probably be more than enough for most events).

2. Scavenger hunt

Friendly competition in the form of a scavenger hunt is a great way to engage conference visitors and allow for a better exploration of the event.

To do that, you would need special beacons (small transmitting devices) and scatter them in the places of interest throughout your conference. You’d also need to have your attendees download an AR app to interact with the beacons.

Topi’s conference app is an easy instrument that can help you set everything up, given that you’ve got the beacons (about $20 each).

CES held in Las Vegas is a massive conference on consumer technologies and innovations. Those attendees who’d installed the conference’s official app had an opportunity to win valuable prizes by collecting special badges.

3. Develop an AR application

If you need something of a bigger scale, you can invest in your own AR application, fully customized according to your needs.

augmented reality apps development

Like the blood donation example we gave earlier, you can build your own augmented reality application to increase people’s awareness of those who need our help (can be people or animals).

You can create an AR app that shows how the face of a person with skin conditions of various severity levels can change and look like if not treated.

For example, if you want to attract more attention to drug/alcohol abuse issues that often have a detrimental effect on skin, such an AR app could show all those effects in a more influencing way.

Instead of a children’s room during a war, create a room of a patient who is terminally ill to help people understand better what it’s like to be limited in abilities all your life.

In such a case, you’d need a more considerable investment if compared to the previous examples because it’d require the services of an augmented reality app development company to build the app itself and create all the visuals.


Augmented reality apps can effectively increase the awareness level, engage people on a deep emotional level, and raise more money for your cause.

It also proves to be cost-efficient since some of the methods (like GEO-based filters) do not require nonprofits to invest a lot. Such organizations are often on a tight budget and cannot afford to spend a lot on promotions.

However, if you want to create a truly effective AR tool for charity, you have to meticulously analyze what type of interaction would be the best for your cause.

In case you wish to create a unique AR experience for your supporters and attendees and opt for the third option, you can always contact us for a professional consultation. We are ready to provide our assistance at any time.

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