Earlier this fall, I was at the National Catholic Development Conference in Chicago. Wandering through the exhibit hall, I came across this flyer.

If you’re like me, you don’t really know what that box is in the upper righthand corner. It’s called a “QR Code.”

Apparently, years ago Toyota created them as a way of labeling parts. Today, they’re used to embed web links. For instance, if you scan the box on the flyer, you’ll be sent to a YouTube video introducing the company’s staff!

Matt, the person pictured on the right, told me that these could also be used in direct mail to send people to customized web pages. Can you imagine sending a direct mail piece and giving the donor the option of landing on a page that could remind them of their last gift, the funds they’ve given too, and anything else you wanted to put on it?


QR codes still seem to be the domain of geeks like me. So I wouldn’t change any year-end appeals you’re mailing this fall. Or even next year. But you might want to try experimenting with QR codes. Some people are embedding these codes in their posters.

Joe Waters, Director of Cause Marketing for Boston Medical Center, showed such a poster in a post on cause marketing during Halloween.

See the QR code in his poster? It takes people to a page that gives more information than a poster could hope to. A person would just use a QR reader on their phone (Android has one built in; Blackberry users can use their BlackBerry Messenger to scan QR codes) and the link would open in their phone’s web browser.

Making QR Codes the Easy Way

The easiest way I know to make a QR code, is to go to the URL shortener http://bit.ly.

  1. Enter the web address you want people to go to. In my case, I entered https://fundraisingcoach.com/store.
  2. Then bit.ly shortens it. If you want, you can customize it. I customized my result to be http://bit.ly/FRCstore.
  3. Then simply type .qr after that link. So if you go to your web browser and type in http://bit.ly/FRCstore.qr, you’ll see a page like this:

    Simply copy this image using “print screen” or a program like SnagIt. And you have your very own QR code!

The uses for QR codes are endless. Think of this: What if you put a QR code in the poster for your next fundraising event? Someone walking down the street comes to the poster. Seeing the QR code, she scans it with her phone and is taken the page for her to purchase tickets. It’s so easy, she purchases one for herself and one for her best friend. And then she continues walking down the street.

Chances are great she wouldn’t have remembered to buy the tickets when she finally reached a computer. But you made it ridiculously easy for her to do what she already wanted to do!

How are you using QR codes in your nonprofit fundraising?

Tell us in the comments!

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