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22 Ways Nonprofits Can Use QR Codes for Fundraising and Awareness Campaigns

January 24, 2011

[tweetmeme] If you haven’t noticed QR Codes yet, after you read this post and browse the QR Codes on Flickr you’re going to start to seeing them everywhere. In magazines, on flyers, tabletops, and conference materials. So, what are they?

QR Codes are two-dimensional bar code images that when scanned by a camera on a smartphone open a link to a website, send a SMS, or dial a phone number.  You can easily create QR Codes for free at sites like and To scan a QR Code, smartphone owners download a QR Code Reader [browse your App Store/Gallery for a “qr code reader”] and then take a picture of the QR Code. The person scanning is then sent either to a mobile Web browser to view the link inside the QR Code, sent a text message, or prompted to dial a phone number. QR Codes are ideal for location-based communications and fundraising campaigns. Try it! Scan the QR Code featured in this blog post to see how it works.

Interestingly enough QR Codes are turning out to be a tool that finally helps nonprofits understand why they need mobile websites (for multiple reasons). Think about it. Linking to a desktop site in a QR Code that is meant to be read on smartphone is not practical. It’s very difficult to read a 12″ wide website on a 2.5″ wide screen. To best utilize QR Codes you will need to link to Web pages designed for mobile browsing, especially  “Donate Now” and “Text-to-Give Now” pages and petition pages optimized for mobile use. It’s also smart to link to your social networking communities, but to the mobile versions i.e.,,,,, etc.

There are infinite possibilities of what your nonprofit can link to in QR Codes – just make sure the pages can easily be read on mobile devices. My guess is that over the next year we’re going to see a rise in nonprofit services tailored to create mobile-friendly Web page and QR Codes. That said, QR Codes that prompt scanners to call phone numbers could be put to very interesting use at political events protests ushering in a new wave of QR Code activism.

The early adopters in the nonprofit sector are a creative bunch. With a mobile website (create one for only $8 a month) and a QR Code generator and reader, there are thousands of possible QR Code campaigns. To help jumpstart your creativity, here are 22 ideas to ponder:

1. In fundraising appeals.
2. In print newsletters.
3. At fundraising events – galas, marathons, etc.
4. On flyers and community billboards.
5. At protests.
6. At conferences.
7. At check-out lines.
8. On tabletops in restaurants.
9. In playbills.
10. In museum tour materials.
11. As scavenger hunts.
12. In city tours.
13. At concerts and sporting events.
14. For art walks.
15. At zoos, aquariums, and animal shelters.
16. In libraries.
17. At parks and outdoor recreation venues.
18. At church.
19. On college and university campuses.
20. At airports.
21. In window displays.
22. On t-shirts, mugs, pins, and business cards.

Related Link:
Webinar: How Nonprofits Can Successfully Utilize Mobile Websites, Group Texting, and Text-to-Give Technology
Mobile Technology for Nonprofit Organizations LinkedIn Group

58 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2011 8:58 am

    i suggest you to check out as well.
    it’s a free social utility where you can get permanent dynamic codes. that means you can change the QR’s content whenever you want and how many times you want. one code = several campaigns, without reprinting stuff all the times. and there’s statistics too!

    • Leticia permalink
      January 24, 2011 12:30 pm

      I’m using for my presentations. Really easy to use 🙂

    • Gastón permalink
      July 21, 2011 6:47 am

      Missing Children is using to find people as I can see in this QRlink from
      Missing is using the utility “Leaf” that allows you to have a micro-mobile-blog easily.
      That website let you see a report of the visitors to your QRs. From where, when and how many. Also the device used to “spot” the QR code.
      I think they are sticking signs with these codes in supermarkets in Canada and the US.

    • koral permalink
      October 21, 2011 12:50 am

      this page: is dangerous for users. my norton security programe. & google worned me that it has go viruses like trojan and it can damage my hard disc.

      • June 13, 2012 5:04 pm

        Koral, I’m using since almost one year already, and never had any problem… I’m using it for my customers too without noticing any bad thing about it.
        Don’t know what you mean.

  2. Tracy Moavero permalink
    January 25, 2011 10:47 am

    Love this! Just used Blackberry messenger to scan.

    • July 18, 2011 9:32 pm

      Some awesome fundraising ideas, we need to support our charities as much as possible. Please everyone give to a charity so that they can look after people and especially kids in need. If you can, please volunteer to help out a charity.

  3. January 25, 2011 3:11 pm

    Nice article. 2011 is going to be the year of the QR Code! I recently launched, a QR Code generator tool designed for businesses to promote their social networks through QR codes.

    Turn foot traffic into web traffic for your fan page and twitter page.

    Please give it a try!

  4. January 25, 2011 5:49 pm

    Great idea. In my country, there are just mobile services in entertainment (ringtone, video, etc) . I am imagining how effective it would be if there is a mobile portal to do the charity. Donate by balance in mobile card would be the quickest and easiest way. Will think of a detailed concept note on it to propose to mobile suppliers in Vietnam. Thanks for your article

  5. January 26, 2011 12:31 am

    QR codes will change the way we advertise or show online information to the people. Check out to make a social QR codes for your business or personal needs.

  6. January 27, 2011 11:28 am

    What about on virtually any product you can think of, that we custom brand for you and print a QR code on?

  7. January 27, 2011 12:36 pm

    Been using QR codes on my art exhibition posters for about 6 months. See an example here:

  8. February 2, 2011 7:56 am

    Simply, Outstanding and empowering. I would be honored if you would e -mail us a copy of this article to use in our future work-shops. Please have your e-mail and web site information on it. We may even hire you for our webinars and speaking engagement.

    Have a nice day !!

  9. February 8, 2011 9:06 am

    We are using QR Codes on our event ticketing software.

    Attendees register for an event, then receive a printable ticket with their personal registration information.

    Here are some examples of the tickets:

  10. March 17, 2011 9:08 am

    Great Ideas! Stop by Scanlutions and check how you can create, manage and track your QR Codes. Thanks, Andy Lynn.

  11. March 27, 2011 1:46 am

    We just launched new QR Code Generator and Tracking at which allows:
    * Creating all types of QR Codes
    * We support also various vector formats (EPS, SVG, XAML, …) not only bitmaps (PNG, GIF, JPG, BMP,…)
    * Decoding message from existing QR Codes
    * Allow tracking of created codes (they can be associated to specific geolocation)
    * We are providing strong API so you can create QR codes from your applications
    * Mobile version (in Beta testing)

  12. April 6, 2011 4:13 pm

    I constantly read where (at festivals, protests, etc.) or on what (on t-shirts, on businesscards, on flyers, etc.) you can use QR Codes, but hardly any creative HOW TO articles. Linking to a YouTube video or to a mobile petitionpage (or store-owners giving away a discount after scanning a code on their window) isn’t really creative, is it? I understand the codes main feature is to simplify communications with your target audience, but still… 🙂

    Anyone any stories about/links to original usage of QR Codes?

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      April 7, 2011 6:59 am

      Actually only one nonprofit has ever linked to a mobile petition using a QR Code… in the whole world. Nonprofits are very behind on mobile, so it is creative. No one… I mean no one else besides the one nonprofit is doing it. 🙂

  13. April 20, 2011 7:08 pm

    I have to say, interesting subject. Good covering on it too!

  14. Raul permalink
    July 21, 2011 12:46 pm

    Thanks guys. I got my Qr there. Awsome
    You can do so many things.
    Still browsing it and discovering a lot of functinoalities.

  15. Erika permalink
    November 11, 2011 10:33 pm

    I work for a non-for-profit association that is thinking to incorporate the QR code a big donation campaign. However, we would like to evaluate this technology before applying. What kind of methodology do you recommend us? I really appreciate your feedback.

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      November 12, 2011 10:11 am

      I think they will be replaced with voice recognition technology in 2012. 🙂

  16. SayingItFirst permalink
    February 7, 2012 4:00 am

    Since I’m not able to directly re-publish your article here, I did want to acknowledge the linkback and also the use of most of your content. You can find our version posted here:

    22 Ways Nonprofits Can Use QR Codes for Fundraising and Awareness Campaigns | SayingItFirst

  17. March 5, 2012 11:39 am

    Interesante articulo, en hemos creado una aplicación online para la creación y seguimiento de campañas con códigos QR

  18. vlad permalink
    March 15, 2012 1:02 am

    QR code is a great invention people made. I’m making mobile apps currently and find it really cool to implement QR codes into them. I’m amazed at QR code coupons Snappii app builder allows to create. They are really helpful for small businesses.

  19. April 3, 2012 6:54 am

    I am excited about using QR codes for the ArtEast Open Studio Tour that i’m working. Seems a natural for art. Does anyone have a recommendation for a QR reader for Blackberry?


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