Virtual reality storytelling as a tool for social impact


‘Amor de Abuela’ exhbiting with Oculus at SXSW 2017


VR has opened a new frontier in fundraising and storytelling by immersing potential donors in worlds and situations that are often difficult to empathise with or imagine.

The emotional impact of VR has proven to increase awareness, evoke empathy and elicit action.

With VR having such a positive impact with potential donors, not-for-profits deserve to have a researched understanding of how to best approach the medium as a tool for social change.

My findings will benefit the fundraising community by equipping not-for-profits and social causes with a guide for approaching VR storytelling for social impact - from story structure, to production, to distribution, while considering return on investment.

This information will help educate not-for-profits on using VR as a tool for their cause, and to encourage the creation of impactful and world-class immersive experiences.

The Australian social sector will benefit from learning from leading international organisations to inspire innovative approaches to fundraising and storytelling to maximise impact. 

As lead researcher, I aim to gain a holistic overview of the best practices of VR for impact, both through the optimal creation of the VR experience itself, but also in effectively displaying the piece to successfully drive donations.

By analysing highly-acclaimed social impact VR experiences, meeting with their creators, and reviewing how they were displayed by the commissioning not-for-profits (e.g. High-end headsets at a fundraising gala, versus low-end mobile headsets for street fundraising), I intend to gain insight into what attributes contribute to the success of a VR experience’s impact.

My findings will be shared in the form of a publicly available report as well as through public speaking opportunities at industry events, such as panels, workshops and conferences.

I look forward to meeting a diverse pool of brilliant minds in the coming year.

My warmest regards, 

Jessie Hughes

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Funded by the PETER MITCHELL CHURCHILL FELLOWSHIP        for 2019.