Using QR Codes

The Shortest Path to Mobile Devices

It's getting more and more difficult to find someone who doesn't have a mobile device in their pocket.  These devices have changed the way we interact with the world, and have become so commonplace that it's unusual when a person doesn't have one.

So, obviously, being able to connect with donors via their mobile device is an important part of any fundraising campaign.

In the past, the most common method of connecting with users of mobile devices was SMS, AKA Text Messaging.  You may recognize the cadence, "text THIS to 87232".  The user texts as prescribed, and receives a link in return.

This method was from a time before phone cameras, and long before cameras on the average mobile device became powerful enough to read QR Codes.

What is a QR Code?

By now, you've probably been to a restaurant that has one of those little checkered squares with "Scan for Menu" printed above them.  These checkered squares are called QR Codes.

For the technically savvy, a QR code is a series of groups of dots, with each group meant to represent a character in binary.  These characters, when read in sequence, result in a string, usually a URL.

To put it simply, scanning a QR code is a new way to open links from an external source.  For example, try scanning this one using your phone's camera.  It's for one of iDonate's Hosted Page examples.

What Can QR Codes Do For Me?

QR Codes are the fastest way to connect with donors using mobile devices.

For instance, at a fundraising event, a QR could be displayed on a large screen.  Scanning this QR would open the Giving Form for the fundraising event.

Compare this with the previous method of reaching mobile devices, Text/SMS, where first the donor would need to open a new text message, enter the number, compose the message using the prescribed syntax, send, wait for receipt, then open the link in the resulting text message.

The difference is clear.  Fewer steps, less friction.  One scan and your donors are on the Giving Form.

How Do I Create a QR Code?

There are no shortage of options for creating QR codes.  All you need is the URL of the Destination Page, e.g. the Giving Form or Hosted Page, and a QR Code Generator.

The one I use personally is an add-on for Chrome, available here.  There are also a number of other free services that can create QR Codes.

The One Caveat to Keep in Mind

The only thing you'll need to take into consideration when creating your QR Code is this question: "Will my intended audience be able to scan this code?"  Here's what you need to keep in mind:

  • The longer the URL, the more dots will be required to create a QR Code.
  • At a certain distance, a QR code with too many dots will not be able to be scanned due to the blurring of the mobile device's camera.
  • So, rule of thumb: The shorter the URL, the simpler the QR code, thus the more easily scannable it will be from a distance.  Keep it short!