QR Codes Providing the Gateway for Mobile Giving

Posted: 17/09/2010 in Advertising, Charity Donations, QR Codes
Tags: , , , ,

Recent research completed by the advertising giant OgilvyOne studied the Youth market and Charitable Giving.  The conclusions drawn from this research highlighted a serious issue with engaging the youth audience with charitable giving.  Traditional donation media channels are failing to generate a worthwhile ROI when targeting the 18-24 year old age group.  TV, Press, Direct Mail & Social Media were all shown to deliver poor results for charities and not for profit organisations.  The only channel delivering significantly improved ROI from the youth market was Mobile – the channel of choice for the Youth market!

The findings of the research got the QRazystuff team thinking..  How can we deliver a ‘giving’ platform using QR Codes specifically targeting the youth market?  We’ve been doing our own research into this question and have come across some interesting initiatives from the emerging QR community.

Considering the power of a QR Code in terms of its possible functionality there are a number of different ways a QR Code can be integrated into a Charity’s marketing campaigns.  A QR Code that generates a Reverse Call SMS message generating a predetermined donation value or a Code that automates a premium rate phone call, again generating a set donation value from the donor.  Neither of these two options really deliver a perfect solution, as neither provide a mechanism to collect contact information from the donor and a loss in income, as the mobile operators fleece the charity with high charges for both services.

Parking these two ideas for a while, we continued our research and then came across a couple of points of interest.  The first application we came across was an end to end QR Code generator platform which seamlessly integrated a PayPal donation.  The PortaPayments application from UK based Funky Android Ltd is a “Scan & Pay” solution, which is compatible with any QR Code Reader app – this was verified in an update to the software published in April 2010.  Whilst PortaPayments does have its own Android app, it is refreshing to see that the base platform has been developed to cater for standard bar code reader apps and is O/S independent.

Our only criticism of this service would be the 0.25% charge applied by PortaPayments for using a ‘Universal’ QR Code.  The term universal actually means that the code can be reader by any Bar code reader app.  Adding the 0.25% charge to the Paypal transaction charges will probably take this service out of the reach of many Charity or not for profit organisations.

Whilst on the subject of PayPal payments, we were encouraged to learn that Paypal provide a special rate for charities of 1.4% + 20p to receive domestic payments.

The second feature we came across during our research really hit the mark for us.  The OttoPress Blog provides a step by step guide to creating a PayPal donation link for a specified value.  Once created, the link can then be shortened using a URL shortener like bit.ly or TinyURL.  The reason for shortening the URL Link is that the data is heavily condensed and therefore produces a simpler, more ascetically pleasing and easier to read QR Code.  The added benefit of using a URL shortener is that we are now able to track the scans and provide campaign metrics for each Code published.

There are, of course, some refinements needed to this process and a significant amount of device testing would be needed before we could roll this service out, but we have proved in principle that we can create QR Codes that activate a simple donation from a mobile device .  To prove the point here is a QR Code we have created which will link to PayPal for a one off donation to the QRazystuff.com fund 🙂

Whilst the process of creating these donation QR Codes is relatively simple, it’s important to recognise that this is only part of creating a successful QR Code ‘giving’ campaign.  This really is an exciting opportunity for those involved with engaging with the youth market and charitable giving, but we would recommend seeking professional advice before embarking on your campaigns.  QR Codes will not replace SMS short code donation channels, but do complement them.  There’s something about QR Codes that people engage with and when you use the full power of these amazing codes, you’ll open up all manner of opportunities.

Unlike Short Codes, we can produce a range of Codes according to the donation amount being requested or volunteered, we can track the scans and click through rates and even monitor the location of the scans.

So we have proved it can be done, but how and where would you go about using them?  Random thoughts from the QRazystuff team included clothing Street Chuggers in a QRazystuff.com T-Shirt or Hoodie with a QR donation code on the clothing so people could donate from a distance.  Adding a series of QR Code donation prints to the data collection sheets carried by the street collectors.  Producing QR donation codes on Direct Mail pieces or best of all producing a billboard poster campaign with a series of variable QR donation codes on.

During these tough financial times, we believe charitable organisations should be brave in their marketing, not curl up in the so called ‘safe’ environment of sticking with the norm.  The costs for testing QR donations are very low and will help brands stand out from the crowd, especially within the highly valuable youth market.

We have a mountain of other ideas to do with QR Codes and Fundraising, so make sure you subscribe to the blog to keep up to date with further updates.

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  1. Terence Eden says:

    The only problem with this approach is that the QR code doesn’t go to a mobile friendly payment page. I’m building a similar thing but using Google Checkout which is mobile friendly and, in my opinion, more user friendly than PayPal.

  2. QRazystuff says:

    @Terence – you’re absolutely right that the content needs to be mobile friendly. Our experience, albeit on a limited number of devices, was positive using PayPal, but would have been better if it had been a mobile landing site.

    A personal opinion, but Google Checkout doesn’t have the customer base (certainly in the UK) that PayPal has, especially in the youth market, but perhaps giving the donor the option might be a good idea..

  3. Terence Eden says:

    Given that a Google Account is required for all Android devices – I expect the numbers to rise in the UK. I think there is a PayPal mobile site – not sure if it charges more though.

    • Otto says:

      Be really careful using Google Checkout. They have issues with simply transferring money between individuals, as in a “donation”. Basically, they don’t allow it, though it does work. I tried it for a while and they suspended my account because of it. After talking with some of them, there is basically no way around it. They only want Checkout to be used for actual purchases of goods and/or services, not for any sort of donation system unless you’re a registered non-profit organization.

  4. NIck says:

    I really like the idea of giving to a good cause and QR codes, so I’m going to try to work on a non-profit that is a middle agent for the people and the charity. Possibly called goodtag, causelink, or something similar. You know, we’d need QRazystuff haha. What are your thoughts? Any advice on starting a successful QR minded business, as you have?
    Thank you!


    • QRazystuff says:


      One valuable piece of advice is ‘patience’… And the second would be to look for a USP in your business proposition..

      Best of luck with whatever you do in the world of QR!


  5. […] Charities can direct users to donation sites. […]

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