Augmented reality revolutionizes fundraising efforts

When we first met the team at Stone Ridge, they were in the middle of developing their Cor Unum One Heart Campaign. Faced with the question of how to impress upon prospective donors the ambition and grand scale of the project, school leaders knew traditional print, email, and web-based communication just wouldn’t suffice. To drive the message home and generate much needed empathy, we’d need a personal touch from the students themselves.

Our vision was to reach potential donors via their mobile devices and present an Augmented Realty (AR), digital model to provide scale and aesthetics. Because the project was a large undertaking and the student body encompassed less than 800 students, the organization knew they would need to reach out to their diverse, worldwide alumnae network. Placing students into the virtual experience to testify on behalf of the project would be the cherry on top.

THE NEED: Extend reach of Cor Unum One Heart campaign to increase campaign contributions from alumnae, family, friends & their community.

THE GOAL: To develop a robust, interactive AR enabled Stone Ridge app that would surface detailed architectural renderings, points of interest, 360 interior videos, and messaging from current students. To raise awareness, engage, educate, and enable Stone Ridge alumnae, family, & friends to contribute to the campaign.

“This app is a game changer”

The fundraising market is competitive, we’re always looking for a small edge to help our capital campaigns succeed. Because at the end of the day, our success directly impacts our students. We think this app is a game changer. – MELISSA PRATHER, STONE RIDGE SCHOOL

Opportunity & Challenge

Founded in 1923, Stone Ridge has always been an innovator of Sacred Heart education, a time-honored educational practice focused on students’ spiritual,  intellectual, social, and physical development. Although rooted in an educational practice established more than 200 years ago, Stone Ridge is also grounded in the digital age, forward-thinking and ready to embrace newer technologies that have quickly become a part of their children’s daily lives.

To make the Cor Unum campaign a success, Stone Ridge needed a new communicative tool that would bring the message to alumnae and community attention.  This new initiative would not only garner their support but also resonate with a new generation of parents whose children attended Stone Ridge. Although Stone  Ridge has a solid base of mature, established donors, they knew that growing their community meant extending their reach into the community and connecting  with more people.

The Plan

On all projects, our priority is setting up a discovery session with the team to listen to their challenges & goals, values, needs, and vision. Together, we assemble the team and involve leadership to collaborate on a way forward and bring the project to successful fruition. On the Stone Ridge project, this included our talented team of designers, programmers, Unity developers, videographers, animators, project managers, writers, and marketers who could bring the vision to life.

As project managers, we worked with Stone Ridge’s architect to acquire CAD renderings of the interiors and exteriors of the new Student Life Center. We used these to texturize the models, include accurate depictions of the structural materials (brick, wood, & glass), outside spaces (playgrounds, trees, & walkways), and interiors (color palettes, furniture, & artwork). Meanwhile, we began work on the UX/UI front end design of the Stone Ridge AR app that would house the models and dove into the functionality of the app for functions like onboarding, navigation, and information structures. We also connected with the website development team to connect the app to a one-step donation process to make collecting secure donations seamless.

While development was in progress, we began storyboarding, casting student parts, and writing the script. In the filming process, we brought a film crew to Stone Ridge to film students with a green screen backdrop so in video editing they could be placed against various backdrops like the performing arts center, visual arts studio, dining hall, student life center, or outdoor quad. In the video, students shared how their respective spaces would benefit their education. An immediate
call-to-action prompting donations immediately appeared following the dialogue.


We delivered a wow-factor experience for the alumnae community through modern technology that engages the user with physical interaction which sets a tone of empathy and connection with the student body. Through the project, we educated users on the building of the new Student Life Center while demonstrating its utility so Stone Ridge can continue to build amazing resources for students with the help of their donors.

Overall, the project capitalizes on a captive audience with active asks that cultivate deep connection at critical moments. It was nothing short of groundbreaking, especially for a legacy institution like Stone Ridge, who was eager and ready to try an innovative approach to collecting donations.

Today, Stone Ridge has an app platform that they can use to develop future educational, community-driven, and administrative content. Ultimately, the project communicates the value of the new Student Life Center by depicting the building down to its most specific details for anyone around the world to view. Not only does the end product share a community-driven project but it also advocates for the beauty and necessity of the intangible using modern technology that brings us together through revolutionary means.

The Results

At the end of the project, we delivered more than an AR app. We delivered a reason to donate and an immersive, personal communication tool that reaches far beyond the Cor Unum campaign. Not only did Stone Ridge see an increase in donations but the AR app has been the talk of the student and alumnae community.

  • The app has been downloaded over 5,000 times
  • The campaign is 80% funded
  • $22.9 million has been donated
  • 772 individual donors

“Really happy with our new app”

We’re really happy with our new app, especially with our students! In fact, we’re starting a new class this fall that covers emerging technologies and content creation. We’d love to have you guys speak during a class, I know the girls would love that. – CONNIE MITCHELL, STONE RIDGE SCHOOL

What we learned

Onboarding for an interactive AR experience is vastly different from that of a typical mobile app. To navigate the 3D model and explore all the spaces of the
building rendering, users needed to move their phone to experience it, which can be counterintuitive when users often expect to tap or pinch to zoom.
Fortunately, with careful user testing and planning, we crafted an onboarding experience that easily teaches users of all ages to interface with the AR
experience with ease. We also learned that it takes more than a few tries to get school-age children to speak to a camera. We weren’t prepared for the laughs
and smiles but sure enjoyed being on location with the students!

Wanna try it? It’s easy!

  • Download the Stone Ridge AR Tour app from your app store
  • Follow the in-app onboarding lesson on how to use the app

Let’s support each other

We wholeheartedly believe in supporting education excellence and preparing our younger generations for the future. You can support Stone Ridge by  downloading their app or donating towards their new Student Life Center.

Have a project in mind?
Lets make something great together!