Smart Ways to Use QR Codes in Nonprofit Fundraising

Find out why QR codes are the next big thing (again!)

By Sarah Wallin, Creative Director

The other night, I was watching an interview on TV and I couldn’t help but notice what was floating across the bottom of my screen… 

Yep, a QR code ad linking me to Elon Musk’s newest NFT venture. But seeing it there intrigued me, because it shows just how far QR codes have come since their early days – and how common they are now. 

Yep, that’s right… in case you forgot, QR codes have been around for a very long time. Long enough to be proclaimed “the next big thing” in the early 2000s and a punchline by the 2010s (if you don’t believe me, just read the headline of this Gizmodo article from 2012). 

Then, during the pandemic, they exploded in use. And it makes sense – much preferable to scan a QR code to read a menu on your own phone, for instance. And luckily, by 2020, new smartphone tech made QR codes easier than ever to use. 

And let us not forget the QR code that broke the Internet this year… 

With all the hype around QR codes, you may be wondering, “But how can they help with fundraising and marketing?” Never fear! I have 2 smart ways to use QR codes in your nonprofit fundraising… 

QR Code Use #1: Direct Mail  

QR codes are becoming that all-important connector between the physical and digital worlds, helping your direct mail extend beyond the page. QR codes can open up more opportunities for storytelling, engagement and even donations – and track how many are scanning! 

Use QR codes strategically in your direct mail: 

  • Add it to a reply device in place of a donation URL or phone number 
  • Use it in a newsletter to show more photos of your featured guest
  • Link it to an urgent needs list on your website or Amazon Wishlist 
  • Use it to connect people to your social media feeds 

A great example of this that I encountered recently was a QR code used on the back of a direct mail appeal’s envelope, encouraging me to scan the code to “find out how my support helped change Nancy’s life forever.” 

Of course, I scanned it! That intriguing teaser hooked me. On the landing page, I not only got to read Nancy’s entire story, but I was also offered a chance to support this nonprofit again. It was a meaningful interaction for me… and all without ever opening the envelope.   

QR Code Use #2: Video and Ads  

Are you like me? I often end up watching my favorite TV shows with my phone in hand, ready to jump on Wikipedia to find out who that actor is… or Google to see if I can find the brand of shoes that character is wearing… or Twitter to find out what my friends are saying about this episode. 

Or maybe the show has lost my interest and I’m playing Wordle! 

Many of us have become accustomed to watching TV with our smartphones in hand… and nonprofits can benefit! Including a QR code in your video or ad gives your nonprofit the opportunity to engage your supporters in a variety of ways. 

Use a QR code to:  

  • Continue the story of someone’s changed life 
  • Learn more on a topic or your work through a specific page on your website 
  • Invite people to special events to support your work  
  • Offer ways people can get involved at your nonprofit 
  • Link directly to your donation page 

The opportunities are endless! David Deal, CEO of David J. Deal Consulting, offers this insight: “QR codes can turn TV ads into direct-response mechanisms, if done well.”

QR Codes: Everything Old Is New Again! 

Now is the time to utilize QR codes in your fundraising. According to website eMarketer, 83 million smartphone users – 38% of smartphone users – will scan a QR code this year, with that user base growing to 43% by 2025. 

Just look at the growth predicted by 2025!   

BDI recently published our 2021 benchmark study, analyzing the giving trends of 42 Rescue Missions over the last five years. One trend we’re predicting for 2022 has to do with QR code usage in fundraising.

If you’re intrigued by QR codes and how they could be integrated into your fundraising, we can help! Our expert team would love to brainstorm with you to see all the innovative ways we can strategically incorporate QR codes into your campaigns. 

Scan here to reach out to us today! 

Check out last week’s Quick Shot – “Are You Safe Online?”

  • Sarah Wallin

    Sarah Wallin, Creative Director

    With nearly 10 years of nonprofit and Rescue Mission experience, Sarah Wallin brings her expertise and imagination to the creative work at BDI. She draws from her background as a college English instructor and writing work for a variety of clients, as well as her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.

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