Creating Immersive VR Experiences and NFTs with Hope for Haiti

Reading Time: 5 minutes


This episode is presented by Givebutter and MemoryFox.

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If there is an organization to watch, Hope for Haiti is it, and today, you’ll meet Community Director of Innovative Philanthropy, Sarah Porter, and CMO Taylor Hebble.

Hope for Haiti is pushing the boundaries with incredible creativity and innovation! A new VR experience transports supporters to a partner school in rural Haiti, they created a beautiful NFT collection in partnership with Haitian artists to fund the build of new schools after the earthquake, AND they’re using LinkedIn as an outlet to reach the media and have already more than doubled their following in the process.

It’s time to step into the future and imagine the possibilities as we consider VR experiences as a launchpad for deeper social impact.

Bringing Haiti to everyone through VR experiences

When I finally had the opportunity to meet Sarah and Taylor at Classy Collaborative earlier this spring, I had a chance to experience their innovative VR experience, Inspiring Hope, on the Oculus device.

Their thought process behind bringing this immersion to life is beautiful: if we can’t bring everyone to Haiti, is there a way to bring Haiti to everyone? 

The origin story came to life after Sarah spent a day exploring VR World in Manhattan. She was quick to recognize that this incredibly sophisticated technology could help connect more people to their mission and even bring in new supporters.

Using blueprints of one of their partner schools, they worked with a virtual reality studio to recreate an entire Haiti environment and landscape in CGI. When you put your headset on, you join as an avatar and get to walk through three different classrooms in the school. You can pick up a piece of chalk and write on the chalkboard, raise or lower the Haitian flag, and even pump a water well.

VR is just one of the ways they’re helping reshape and reframe the narrative around Haiti.

From concept to execution: how long it took Hope for Haiti to launch their VR experience

From concept to execution and all of the work in between, it took about a year to get Hope for Haiti’s VR experience up and running. There were a lot of logistics and even the tiniest changes, like brightening the color of the trees or scaling back on the number of butterflies, that had to be taken into consideration.

Sarah wondered, “what’s the response going to be? Because there’s so much incredible VR out there. Is this going to resonate?”

Luckily she could push her fears aside, as the response has been overwhelmingly positive. They hear, “Hope for Haiti is so innovative! You are doing something we have not seen the nonprofit world do.”

Sarah and Taylor are also taking it on the road, presenting the experience at conferences around the country, including AWE, one of the largest virtual reality conferences in the world. As one of only 15 companies presenting, they were the only nonprofit and they guess over 500 people tried out Inspiring Hope.

If you take anything away from this episode, know that innovation is key, and especially when you’re thinking about the next generation of donors and philanthropists, VR and NFTs need to be considered.

How Hope for Haiti grew to over 8,000 followers on LinkedIn

You all know LinkedIn is my jam, and Hope for Haiti have done an amazing job nurturing the platform, putting it at the forefront of their digital strategy over the past couple of years.

Taylor shares their two-pronged approach:

  1. She uses LinkedIn for media outreach. So much of getting attention on your organization is relationship based. Reporters are flooded with emails – there’s no way they can get through everything. Taylor will do a lot of outreach through LinkedIn’s InMail, and shares a weekly press briefing on her feed.
  2. They also use LinkedIn to spark partnerships during big campaigns and for boosting attendance at local events. We all get too many emails – but taking a personalized approach and sending that outreach through InMail to introduce yourself and invite a conversation is so smart.

Altogether, they post about twice a week to their feed and encourage us to use hashtags in our copy, as those do work! They’ll even reshare employee posts, for example, if Sarah is posting about their NFT collection, that’s worth resharing, as it empowers and emboldens their staff’s voices, too. 

Hope for Haiti plans to experiment with LinkedIn’s newsletter feature in the future to see if that proves fruitful.

Hope for Haiti’s Asks

  1. Sarah and Taylor would love to get your support by sharing their NFT collection. It’s empowering six amazing Haitian artists, and rebuilding two schools. Click here to check out the collection!
  2. There’s still a lot of work to do in Haiti! If you would like to make a financial contribution to Hope for Haiti, you can donate here.
  3. Taylor is interested in creative thought partners. She says, “if anyone wants to knowledge share or work on a piece together, reach out! We’re definitely nose deep into the work right now preparing for the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, and I’m always looking for best practices. Let’s all learn together.”

Notable Quotes from Sarah and Taylor

“Another benefit to this really powerful tool is it enables us to help change the narrative around Haiti. We know how Haiti is portrayed – its poverty, corruption, natural disaster, and we know there’s so much more to Haiti’s story. And I think this enables us to really reframe and reshape that narrative, and VR is just one of the ways that we’re doing that.”

“I want to see nonprofits using VR. VR increases empathy in a way that photo, text, and video do not. You feel like you’re there. And the games are great. They’re mind blowing. They’re fun. But using it for social impact? I think it just aligns so well.”

Resources & Links

If you want to make this Giving Tuesday even butter than last year, catch the replay of my free webinar with Floyd Jones, How To Set Up Your GivingTuesday Campaign in 1 Hour Without Pulling Your Hair Out! Go to positiveequation.com/givebutter to watch it and find out how your organization can qualify for $50,000!

Set up a demo with one of MemoryFox’s Set storytelling experts at memoryfox.io/dana, plus get 10% off!

Learn more about the incredible work Hope for Haiti is doing on their website. You can also check out their VR experience on SideQuest.

If you’re curious about experiencing virtual reality, you can pick up your own VR headset, like this one.

Snowcrash is the platform Hope for Haiti is working with to mint their NFTs. Be sure to check out their collection!

Want to make Missions to Movements even better? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram. Be sure to tag @positivequation so I can connect with you. 

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