QR codes in the social profit world

I think that QR codes hold great potential for being an effective tool. They deserve a place in any social profit’s communications toolbox.

In an earlier post, I made some observations about QR codes and included a few tips on using them effectively. In this post, I’m going to look at how charities and nonprofits can make the most out of this cost-effective method to help achieve your goals.

Link to websites when it makes sense

Waterloo Region Tourism GuideA QR code works best when there is a payoff. In many cases, a link to a website is not a payoff. But it can be. Waterloo Region’s tourism brochure to include a QR code to its website on the front of its travel guide. This guide is most likely in the hands of a tourist and making it as easy for them to connect to the possibilities presented on the website is smart.

Other ideas for when a link to a website makes sense, such as linking to:

  • a donation form–especially for a targeted campaign or cause
  • a coupon to offer a 2 for 1 special or a discount–especially if people can only use the QR code to get it
  • a map with directions or a feedback form
  • a contest entry form
If you are going to link to a website, be sure that it is mobile-friendly or better yet optimized for mobile users since folks following QR codes will be using a smartphone or tablet.

Bring your print publications to life

Where I see the greatest possibilities for QR codes is to bring your publications to life. Take for example an annual report, newsletter or brochure. I have in the past included links to where people can learn more online about a story but now we can do so much more

stratford shakespeare festival QR code

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival for example took its standard welcome message in its visitor’s guide and gave it the warmth and personality of Des McAnuff, its artistic director, by including a QR code to a video welcome. What might have been easily skipped over in the past became an asset.

Here are some ideas on how your organization could benefit from QR codes.  You could link to:

  • a video of the story being shared or a message from the Executive Director
  • an interview or segment of an interview with the subject of the story
  • a polished or even unpolished video showing the program in action
  • your Youtube or Vimeo channel
  • related audio files or podcasts
  • blogs or categories/tags for blogs on the same or a related topic
  • an e-magazine of a longer report

In short, the possibilities are unlimited. Your QR code could go to any form of digital media that your organization is using now or in the future. By doing so, you tap into the benefits of those other forms of media such as video’s ability to capture emotion and motion.

Just remember, that as Stratford did, you need to indicate what will happen and/or what the payoff is.

What examples can you share?

Do you have any examples of how social profits are effectively using QR codes? Please share.


Awesome post! QR code can also be link to Facebook likes, an innovative way to increase FB fans and expand brand awareness.