It’s the time of year again when organizations, large and small, try to break out the holiday wishes, stories, and campaigns to get one last donation, one last gift and one last pledge in before the new year.  Oxfam is no different, but the way they are going about it is!  They’ve created a space online where visitors can better understand some of the areas served by Oxfam, learn about the conditions and the needs of people there, and learn about the impact their specific gifts can make.  Take a closer look below: Oxfam’s Unwrapped Virtual Village!

The Virtual Village

When you visit the Unwrapped Virtual Village, you are given three different villages to help:


Hovering your mouse over one of the villages in the circles gives you a dexcription of what issues face that village and how you can help.  Clicking on one transports you to the village where you can click on items throughout the area that can help the local village members.


Clicking on one of the dots lets you see what it is with more detail and to “get the item” for the village.  So far, the experience has been like that of an educational game: finding and helping but also learning the real world side of it all.  Once you click on “get the item” though, you are give the opportunity to move from playing a realistic or educational game to actually buying an item and supporting the village in real life.

You can now click to get the item for the village in the game, or you can buy the item as gift via Oxfam.  What I like most is that the educational side of the scenario doesn’t stop: you’re given a case study about how, in this example, solar panels are actually impacting the lives of others.


It is really important to me that organizations continue to educate their supporters about the work they are doing as well as how they as an organization as well as the supporters are helping and positively impacting the service areas.

Telling stories of impact comes both from the organization as well as from those supported…and even comes from those who support you!

A Little Story

I have a very close friend who came to me with a “problem” a couple holiday seasons ago.  The problem was that her family was very excited about doing something for the holidays that was going to really impact people around the world who were struggling more than they were and that they were really excited about an opportunity they had heard about to buy a goat from Scotland that would be taken to a village or a family in Africa.  She was thrilled that her family was excited to be philanthropic and support others, but she felt like they had made their decision of how to help without investing any time or due diligence into who they were helping and if what they were doing was really something needed.

She challenged them to investigate other options, who they wanted to help, and what could really do the most for them with the amount they had to donate or invest.  It turned out that they did not end up purchasing a goat from Scotland.

This story isn’t to say that people should stop funding or supporting programs that deliver livestock to needy areas, not in the least!  The lesson here to be sure you are educated about the impact you want to make and how best to make it.

I think Oxfam’s Unwrapped Virtual Village is a fun way to get the whole family involved in investigating and learning about issues in other parts of the world and choosing the gifts that they care about and know will also make a good impact.

What do you think?

Making Giving Fun: Case Study from Oxfam
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  • Amy:

    Two lessons here:
    1) Lesson for individuals (as you’ve noted): “Be sure you are educated about the impact you want to make and how best to make it.” – Absolutely and:
    2) Lesson for organizations: Make involvement with the work of your org transparent and fun. As your short case study of Oxfam shows.
    I have found that both Oxfam and ActionAid in the UK have very creative approaches to fundraising – Kudos to both and to you for sharing!

    • Thanks so much, Bonnie!

      I’m still getting over my wretched cold so didn’t end up sitting and typing on this as much as I would have liked! But, it’s okay with people like you that will pick up for me add great notes and value to the post!

      You are totally right on that it isn’t just the individuals needing more information and more resources that makes this case study interesting, but that Oxfam created an interesting and fun way to dig deeper into the issues and areas they are working on. It’s information rich but also an approach to gift aid that people will have fun sharing with their family or friends.

      Thanks for joining in

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