QR codes help nonprofits expand fundraising operations

Since the mid-'90s, businesses from all reaches of the industrial spectrum have been including QR codes in marketing campaigns to engage prospective customers on a more interactive level. Posting the small codes on packages and promotions, companies have used QR codes for a variety of functions, from advertising specific deals to providing further insight into a particular product. But the applications of QR codes are not limited to for-profit use. Over the past decade, several nonprofits have discovered how QR codes can benefit fundraising efforts.

In 2011, the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Kansas City found the number of big brothers opting into the program was down significantly. So much so that the organization, in an attempt to recruit more volunteers, established an advertising campaign where materials were brandished with an easily distinguished QR code. It allowed potential big brothers and sisters to quickly link to additional information about the organization, as well as a volunteer application. In the six weeks after the campaign began, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Kansas City received upwards of 200 click-throughs of their application page.

Similar instances have involved the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network using codes during a Los Angeles Kings game to increase involvement, and Toys for Tots famously teaming with eBay to encourage donations by including a QR code in toy store window displays.  Both campaigns were hailed as successes.

How to incorporate QR codes into fundraising efforts
For nonprofits, QR codes have a very unique function because they are not only useful in traditional advertising and dispensing additional information, but they can aid in the solicitation of donations.

To begin, nonprofits must decide what their specific QR codes will do. It could direct users to more information about the charitable foundation or link to an online donation form. some organizations have even added QR codes to packages that - when scanned - ask the recipient to donate right then and there.

After establishing the function of a code, nonprofits should consider how it looks and how easy it is to use. Above all, consider the ease with which the code can be scanned. A mistake commonly made by organizations is trying to embed too much information on a single code. As the complexity of the embedded information increases, scannability decreases. Organizations should avoid any erroneous styling and instead use a simple black code on a white background produced in a PDF format.

Ultimately, QR codes can provide nonprofits with an additional platform to extend their cause's reach and further increase donations.

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