How to Make a Mobile Donation in One Minute (or Less)'s Bob Jones sent me these three attractive QR Codes to prove just how easy it is to make a donation on your mobile device. Try it for yourself. Regardless of your mobile device, you can find a QR Code reader in your app store. 

  1. Open the app and hold your device over the QR Code.
  2. The code will link you to a mobile page with the nonprofit's logo.
  3. Press GIVE NOW.
  4. Choose the amount you want to donate, or just send $1 as a test. (If you're hesitant about making a donation on your phone, no problem. Scroll down to email your pledge to yourself so you can donate from your computer.)
  5. Log in to Paypal and confirm your donation. If you're not signed up on Paypal you can plug in your credit card number. Either way, your password or credit card info will be saved for next time, which will make your donating even faster!

I followed these steps and completed a mobile donation to all three charities. The first one to Ace took me over a minute as I fumbled to follow my own directions. But donating to the other two took less than a minute!

Donating on your mobile device is fast, easy and secure. Mobile donations are here!

The hill to climb now is ADOPTION. If you've every used a service like LevelUp, Square, the Starbucks mobile payment app or another service, paying with your phone may already be second nature. But many others are just getting started.

When I was at Starbucks the other day using my phone to pay for my drink, the man behind me said: "Did you just pay with your phone?!"

We still have a little way to go. But this freight train is coming, and it's ahead of schedule.

More details: 7 Ways to Raise Money with QR Codes

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Three More Ways to Raise Money with QR Codes

I started this post over at the Inspiring Generosity blog at Here are three more ways to raise money with QR Codes. That brings the total to seven! 1. QR Code links to a coupon or offer that triggers a donation. After scanning the QR Code, the user gets a mobile coupon or an offer that when redeemed triggers a donation from the business.

Advantage: This is a great way for business to track consumer response to a campaign. Consumers are rewarded for participating.

Disadvantage: The consumer has to perform multiple steps to trigger a donation, which usually means fewer dollars will be raised.

Real World Example: launched to help consumers provide meals to children using coupons. Working with Feeding America, donated one meal for every three coupons used.


2. QR Code links to a contest site that rewards nonprofits that get the most votes. After scanning the QR Code, the user votes for the nonprofit project she wants the company to support.

Advantage: The consumer plays an active and important role in choosing a nonprofit that deserves support.

Disadvantage: The investment needed to create a mobile voting site may be beyond the means of most small businesses and nonprofits.

Real World Example: Sonic's Limeades for Learning to benefit featured a QR Code on cups that led users to a mobile site where they could submit and vote for their favorite school project across the country. Sonic then donated $100,000 on a weekly basis to the most-voted projects.

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3. QR Code for mobile payments allows you to donate to causes within the app. Mobile payment app LevelUp lets users turn savings they’ve earned into donations for causes.

Advantage: An easy way to support a cause.

Disadvantage: You can only earn savings points when you use the app at businesses with a LevelUp terminal.

Real World Example: LevelUp lets you choose the percentage of savings and the charity that will receive the donation.


Saying Thank You with QR Codes

Last week on Razoo'sInspiring Generosity, I wrote this post on using QR Codes to thank holiday supporters. My point was that you can make a thank you letter a lot more interesting and powerful by including a QR Code at the bottom that links to something visual.

There are a couple good reasons to do this. First, for all the talk about people using their mobile devices and scanning QR Codes outside the home, research indicates that both these things are done primarily in the home. That's what makes thank you letters a natural spot for QR Codes. It makes your thank you better, and because it arrives at donors' homes there's a better chance they'll scan and get the special message.

Anyway, Share Our Strength emailed me this great video last week. It's a thank you from their staff. I thought, "Every nonprofit should do this. They should shoot a short holiday thank you video from staff and share it via QR Code on every thank you letter that goes out in December and January."

What do you think? Will you give it a try?

The Real Scoop on QR Codes. Are They Right for Your Cause?

I'm happy to announce the release of my new book, QR Codes for Dummies. It was a really fun book to write! As many of you know, I love the intersection of cause and mobile technology and QR Codes are right there connecting the two. 

You can download a sample chapter here. Enjoy. Of course, you can buy the full book at Amazon or wherever wicked awesome books are sold. :)
A lot of people wonder why I wrote a book on QR Codes. Even my mother was like, "Joe, QR Codes, really?" I found myself nodding in agreement. 
Here's what I really believe about QR Codes.
QR Codes won't be around forever 

There's just too much other great technology in the pipeline that will soon overtake these black and white mazes. I discuss this new technology in the book. It includes near field communications (NFC) and augmented reality. 
However, QR Codes are the tool of the moment and are the most recognizable link between the real world and the digital world. Let's use them well while they are here!

QR Codes work best with teens and women

EVERYONE is scanning QR Codes, but teens and women are top scanners.
  • Young people seem to love QR Codes the most. Teen Vogue recently reported that nearly half of its readers are scanning QR Codes. They know this because you can track QR Code scans (something you can learn more about in my book). If your nonprofit works with young people, make QR codes a priority.
  • Women will be the next big adopters of QR Codes. You can't open a women's magazine or pick up a product for the ladies that doesn't have a QR Code on it. If your nonprofit serves women, or if you target mainly women donors, QR Codes may be a good fit.

QR Codes aren't the Big Show

QR Codes are more like a side show when you compare them to the main act of businesses and nonprofits having a mobile strategy that will bring the physical and digital worlds together. Remember, the future of nonprofit marketing is targeting supporters where they are and where they care.

QR Codes are leaning in the right direction, even if they will be remembered as the stone wheel in a high tech revolution. 

QR Codes for Dummies is Coming! FREE Webinar Next Week

"The future of nonprofit marketing is connecting with supporters where they are and when they care. QR Codes are a link to that future."

I'm really excited about my new book, QR Codes for Dummies. I'll finish the final edits this week and the book will be out in June.

To celebrate finishing the book, I'm throwing a party of sorts over at, the #1 web site for nonprofit webinars on every topic you can think of - sponsorship, auctions, Facebook, cause marketing, etc.

On April 4th at 1pm I'm offering a FREE webinar on QR Codes for nonprofits. During this hour-long webinar you'll learn:

  • What is a QR Code?
  • How do I scan a QR Code and make my own
  • Why QR Codes are Important to your Nonprofit
  • What are 5 ways that nonprofits, both small and large, are using QR codes successfully
  • Why QR Codes are the start of a mobile revolution that you need to join now!

At the end of the webinar, you'll be invited to a 90 minute premium webinar at on April 11th at a savings of 20% off the list price of $69.99. This webinar will dig even deeper into QR Code marketing. I'll show you how to make and measure them, and how to use them to deepen your nonprofit's connection with stakeholders.

Included with this premium webinar is a handy guide that will take you step by step through QR Code marketing.

But even if you don't enroll in the premium webinar, the FREE webinar will give you a great start on QR Code marketing.

Want to learn more about QR Codes? Click on the QR Codes for Dummies cover, or if you are on the go, scan the QR Code on the cover with your smartphone, to watch a video of me talking about my new favorite topic: two-dimensional barcodes!

What Condoms Can Teach Causes About QR Code Marketing

You gotta love this QR code marketing program from Planned Parenthood of Greater Northwest. They distributed 55,000 condoms to colleges in western Washington state with QR codes that when scanned went to a sex check-in site called

During National Condom Week this month (they really have a week for everything, don't they?), the site had 65,000 visitors and 4,500 check-ins.

In addition to being a successful program, this QR code promotion has some lessons for causes that want to use these popular black and white mazes for marketing.

Your QR code landing page needs to be mobile friendly. Planned Parenthood's mobile page is well designed and keeps the mobile user in mind. QR codes link to web pages that need to be optimized for the tiny screen. That means your content needs to be visible without the need to pinch or expand the screen. You also have to keep images to a minimum, avoid things like Flash, which doesn't run on Apples's iPhone, and avoid form fields that look more like a crossword puzzle.

QR codes require a Plan B. I hate when I see a QR code slapped on something with no explanation of what it does or where it goes. You're appealing to a very narrow audience when you only use a QR code. Yes, QR code scanning is increasing, but people are still getting used to them. Even with the QR code prominently displayed on the condom packaging, only 20% of site visits came from mobile devices. That's why it's a good idea to include a website, or give people the option to text you, as Heinz does on its ketchup bottles.

QR codes skew male. While I discovered that women drive condom purchases worldwide by as much as 70%, my bet is that men are scanning QR codes and logging their conquests on the website (Lots of lying, for sure. You got the condom in Washington but you used it in Myanmar, my ass.). 60 percent of QR code scans are performed by men ages 18-34. Checkin services such as this one, which is similar to Foursquare, are predominately used by men. I expect QR code scans and checkins among women to jump this year as both actions become more mainstream. However, causes would be wise to use QR codes when young men are a key part of their target audience.

The QR code isn't the star. QR codes link the offline world to online content and Planned Parenthood treats theirs like the tool it is. While the code is an interesting part of the campaign, it's not the star. The star is that Planned Parenthood created a sex checkin site to promote condom use! If you're creating a promotion and you think the QR code is its best, most creative feature, it's time to go back to the drawing board.

QR codes can carry viruses. Because you don't know what's encoded on a QR code when you scan it, you could be giving a virus a foothold on your mobile device without even realizing it. As a practice, I don't scan a QR code that doesn't tell me what it links to or is on a sticker. The cyber criminal might have covered the real QR code with a fake. Also, I try to pay close attention after I scan a code to see if anything strange is happening (e.g. not going to the site I thought, there's a request to install something on my device) so I can abort the action.

Pulling out won't save you from a virus in real life. But it just might save your mobile device from one.

Check out my QR code pin board at Pinterest. Also, order my book, QR Codes for Dummies, at Amazon.