QR Codes for Supporter Engagement ... Do Your Homework!
QR (quick response) codes … you have probably seen them and perhaps didn’t even notice. They are those funny, pixilated squares you may have seen on posters, magazines or product packaging. They have been described as looking like a cross between a barcode and a Rorschach test.
QR codes are actually similar to a barcode in the sense that they contain data such as a URL for a Web page, data or a text-based message. The cool thing about QR codes is that they can be read simply by using a smartphone. Many smartphones come with a QR code reader installed, and for those that don’t, well, “there’s an app for that.” I use a free QR code reader on my iPhone called i-nigma. Using the app, I simply scan the QR code, just like taking a picture of it, and it automatically pulls up whatever message, data or Web page is embedded in the QR code.
Additionally, QR codes are free and easy to generate. Sites like Qurify.com enable you to turn any URL into a QR code just as easily as it is to shorten a URL on bitly. As a test, try taking your site’s URL and creating your own QR code.
So why does this matter to nonprofit organizations? Simply, it’s an additional fun, easy and engaging way to interact with supporters. I’d like to credit several of our innovative clients at Artez Interactive and many other NPOs who have been testing the use of QR codes as part of their communications with supporters. Below are examples of how some organizations are using QR codes:
- One organization included a QR code that linked to its donation page as part of its annual appeal letter that went to 40,000 supporters. Putting the QR code on the letter leveraged an existing program and took no additional effort or incremental costs. The organization didn’t explain what the QR code was, believing that those who knew might try scanning it.
- Another organization took a similar approach of including a QR code that linked to its donation page from a holiday appeal ad that it ran in the local newspaper. The QR code cost nothing additional, yet gave readers another way to interact and visit the site.
- Another client reported organizing a scavenger-hunt type group event around a city where people went from place to place and scanned a QR code poster that it had created. The codes took them to Web pages where they answered questions and were given clues about where to find the next sign. There was no donation component to this particular event, but it definitely helps to build supporter relationships.
In the first two examples above, there weren’t huge numbers of donations given but there were some. The point of these is that technology in general and QR codes in particular give organizations interesting and innovative ways to engage supporters. Some may lead directly to more donations while others may not.