Nonprofit organizations, traditionally slow to adapt to changes in fundraising strategies, are gradually becoming more tech savvy. Part of this has to do with the changing demographics of donors, with young adults gradually moving into the philanthropic arena. This is especially true for causes that motivate and inspire them emotionally. Add to that the proliferation of smartphones in that same demographic, and what’s emerging is a new way for nonprofits to communicate and connect with a younger donor base.
Reports indicate that QR codes, the square 2D bar codes now seen almost everywhere, could be the next open door to nonprofit fundraising. Scanning the QR code with a smartphone can take the user directly to a website with information the organization wants to showcase and an opportunity for fundraising. Of course, the nonprofit’s specially-designed and designated website must be visually enticing, compelling, targeted to the appropriate demographic and emotionally charged to elicit a positive donor response. It should also be optimized for viewing on mobile devices.
There are several ways nonprofits can use QR codes for fundraising. As with all outreach campaigns, the various elements of the campaign must be integrated and designed to build upon and complement each other.
For example, a direct mail fundraising appeal can contain general information with a QR code printed on the piece to encourage donations or to provide additional motivation. A plus to this approach is the ability to track responses and capture reader information such as email addresses and comments.
How many times have you received a donation solicitation from a cause you support, but don’t have time at the moment to respond? The mail gets put in a pile and possibly forgotten. Smart nonprofits are now putting QR codes on their fundraising letters so donors can scan and respond immediately.
If a special event is part of the campaign, nonprofits can use the QR code on posters, programs, flyers and other material distributed on site. This will provide an opportunity for participants to access the detailed information about the campaign. Fundraising envelopes printed with the QR code can also make it easier for donors to scan, read, get motivated and give, either on-site or later when they’ve had a chance to review your cause. Be sure to add “How to Donate” as part of your destination website’s information.
Boston Medical printed their QR code on a flyer distributed at the hospital’s annual Halloween party. Scanning the code led participants to more information about fundraising opportunities to support the hospital’s charitable endeavors.
In another example, the Boston Herald noted that The Salvation Army has begun using QR codes next to the red buckets found in front of most stores during the holidays. "The code is a great alternative for those who pass by our kettles, but don’t have any change in their pockets to give," said Maj. Ivan Rock, general secretary of the Massachusetts Salvation Army.
(photo by Ted Fitzgerald)
Some nonprofits use billboards as informational and directional sources. With a QR code on the billboard, potential donors and/or volunteers can scan the code to learn more about your organization while on the go.
For nonprofits exhibiting at trade shows, the QR code is a great way to stimulate responses to a contest while collecting contact information for future fundraising. By responding to just three or four questions, name, company, phone and email, the participants have a chance to interact with the nonprofit website, provide vital information for continued outreach, and enter to win a prize.
Because QR codes are still relatively unique in the nonprofit world, an innovative idea is to put the “buzz factor” to work by having the codes imprinted on merchandise that promotes the organization. Besides being a great conversation piece, the codes provide an opportunity for scanning while sharing a cup of coffee or jogging in a code-imprinted tee shirt.
A study by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research showed that nonprofit professionals believe the use of QR codes can increase fundraising, help raise awareness of their organization, keep external audiences engaged and reduce costs relative to traditional media.
With the donor base for nonprofits centered around 30- to 50-somethings, the use of technology, and particularly QR codes, in nonprofit fundraising is expected to continue and grow.
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