Should Your Nonprofit be Using QR Codes?

QR Code Image

A quick response code, otherwise known as a QR code, is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. So what?

QR code technology is a recent trend that has either found a place in your nonprofit’s marketing plan or simply written off as not worth adopting. Regardless of your decision, here are a some pros and cons to review if you are considering utilizing the scanning technology.


1) Measurement – QR codes provide an effective way to measure engagement  across print and digital media marketing efforts. As users scan a code with their mobile device, they can be directed to a specific website or landing page designed exclusively for the campaign. This can help your nonprofit test the effectiveness and reach of your advertisements by allowing you to acquire geographical data that informs your strategy.

2) Simplicity – For those familiar with scanning a QR code, the process is simple. Launch your QR code app from your iPhone or Android device, point your device at the QR code using the device’s camera, and the app will present a series of options, most likely recommending a visit to a specific website. In short, including a QR code on promotional materials eliminates the donor’s need to type out a sometimes long or non-semantic url (i.e. www.*yournonprofit*.com/annualfund/2013/donors/donate.html”).

3) Free – Last but not least, QR codes are free to create, distribute and scan – making it easy for both fundraisers to create and donors to access.


1) Lack of Recognition  – Many donors aren’t familiar with QR Codes, let alone knowing how to interact with one. Though simple to use, your donors may feel challenged and frustrated if you omit alternatives to acquire information. It may not be a bad idea to include some instruction along with your  code, depending on how tech savvy your donor community may be.

2) Requires technology – Though smart phone and tablet device adoption is on the rise, not everyone has the tools required to perform a QR code scan. Additional software for the device is also necessary and some donors may not be familiar with the process of seeking out, downloading, and installing apps. Donors may also lack the proper administrative privileges on their hardware prohibiting them from installing apps.

To best determine if QR Codes have a utility in your nonprofit, take some time find out if your donors have some familiarity with the technology. Their ability and willingness to participate should ultimately determine if your nonprofit will benefit from QR Code adoption.

Looking for some QR Code inspiration? Check out this Pinterest page that demonstrates a variety of creative uses.