Nonprofit fundraising with virtual reality

Seung Chul Yoo, Minette Drumwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


An increasingly competitive fundraising environment and the new media ecosystem have prompted nonprofit organizations to strengthen their digital marketing capabilities. Recently, a few nonprofits have used virtual reality (VR) technology in fundraising, which raises questions about its effectiveness. Does VR work, and if so, through what psychological mechanisms? Through a lab experiment, the usefulness of VR as a digital fundraising tool was investigated. Specifically, we compared the media effects of experiencing the same fundraising video on two different devices: (a) a head-mounted VR and (b) a tablet. The results revealed that donation intention, perceived vividness, perceived interactivity, and social presence were all significantly greater with the VR medium than with the tablet medium. Next, we tested and successfully verified the mediation effect of social presence on donation intention. Finally, we verified that a viewer's sensation-seeking tendency served as a moderator when the device type influenced donation intention. Specifically, the media effects of VR were stronger for high sensation seekers than for low sensation seekers. This study contributes to theory and research by verifying the VR fundraising effect and identifying the key role of social presence, and it also provides important managerial guidelines for media design in VR fundraising campaigns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-27
Number of pages17
JournalNonprofit Management and Leadership
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • fundraising
  • nonprofit organizations
  • social marketing
  • virtual reality


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