Yesterday in the Green Bay Press Gazette I saw something I had not seen before — a local charity placed an ad in the paper inviting readers to donate via a QR code.
I have a “dumb” phone, so I’ve never actually used a QR code, but for the uninitiated, QR (standing for “quick response”) codes are square barcodes that can be scanned by smart phones. You’ve seen them, I’m sure:
Scanning the QR code takes you to text, information, a wireless network…or in this case, a site where you can quickly and securely donate to the charity.
I’ve seen several organizations use text-to-donate options, but only up until now for national charities. For most, it goes like this: text “HAITI” (or whatever) to a number, and the cellphone provider will add $10 to your bill to donate to the charity. Text donations have been extremely successful — an estimated $3 million reportedly was donated to the American Red Cross within 24 hours after the earthquake in Haiti.
It’s relatively easy to get a QR code – several sites including Kaywa, Qurify and Delivr will turn a website into a QR code. The Google URL Shortener will also create a QR code file from a shortened link — just click Details to see the image file. Setting up text donations is also a relatively simple process, requiring only the cooperation of a mobile provider.
But the question for fundraisers is, should we be using these methods to fundraise? According to Charity Navigator, there are understandable concerns about the safety of quick donations. Donors should still do their homework before giving, and nonprofit organizations should do everything they can to ensure the safety and privacy of donated funds.
My question, though, has to do with efficacy. Who are the donors who use this kind of technology, and are they the kind of donors who will give to the arts? I asked my fundraising class yesterday, and they (like me) are of mixed mind on this. They surmised that many donations that come in via text or QR code would come from younger, tech-savvy donors, and these are people that all arts organizations covet. But they were unsure that these donors would respond to this kind of impulse donation without the urgency and emotional tug of a situation where someone needed help right away. Several class members thought the holidays were a good time to get donations for charities who serve the homeless and hungry – taking advantage of everyone’s natural impulse to be generous at this time of year.
Do arts organizations need to hop on the impulse donation bandwagon? I’m not sure yet. What I do know is that we can’t be impulsive ourselves in trying new technologies just for the sake of trying them or because they seem to be the new hot thing. As with all fundraising, the most success will come when the campaign is strategic and meaningful.
What about you? Have you used quick donations? Under what circumstances would you try them?