Use QR Codes to Increase Your Nonprofit’s Brand Presence

When thinking about how and when to use quick access codes (aka QR codes), I can’t help but feel hungry. Hungry? Yeah! Before the great sickness, these codes were like moldy pieces of cheese, a cool idea at the time, but past its prime. Yeah, I could feel fancy and give it a try, but I’d rather type in a URL instead of having to open up a special app while holding my phone at different angles, just to scan a weird square! Why have moldy cheese when you can dunk a chip in ooey gooey queso? Ya know? Did I mention I’m hungry? After 2020, we started to see the appeal via…you guessed it, food! As restaurants traded paper for these digital babies, folks have increasingly embraced QR codes more than ever before.

Why does this girl keep talking about food?

How are QR codes going to help my nonprofit?

QR codes are simple. Even better, they utilize a non-contact engagement strategy. This lets people discover your social platforms, websites, or campaigns in one scan. Not only will this help avoid that sometimes intimidating one on one conversation, but it also eliminates the error that comes with typing in URLs.

Additionally, QR codes provide you with key data on how often people are exploring your nonprofit. They offer you a unique insight into the traffic and engagement of your desired subject without you having to lift a finger (maybe just a pointer or two). In my own words, your community can have their cake, and YOU can eat it too.

QR Code Best Practices

Now you can’t just go around slapping a QR code to every flyer or sign. Remember:

Keep it Easy

While adding QR codes for people to access your social platforms is helpful, adding them directly to digital content like your Instagram story or Facebook page is not. Who wants to grab a phone to scan a phone to scan a code? Make sure when you showcase a QR code, it:

  • Will be used on physically printed marketing material
  • Isn’t too small. Try to keep it bigger than 1 inch x 1 inch
  • Is easy to capture. Keep the background clean, with lots of white space around it

For example: QR codes are an excellent way to increase engagement at community events or even your own fundraiser. Have a ‘scan to give’ QR code plastered all over your fundraising event materials!

Make it Extra 

It’s fun to feel special! Use these mysterious scannable codes to bring people behind the curtain. You can use a QR code to give donors exclusive access to swag from your organization if they give by scanning the code. Not only do they feel special, but that yard sign, bumper sticker or mug (we could go on…) with your logo on it will increase your brand awareness every time the donor uses it.

Create Safely

Receiving feedback and testimonials as a nonprofit can be as hard as my mom’s pasta (there’s al dente, and then there’s raw, Teresa). Whether you are a non-profit or a for-profit, testimonials provide authenticity and credibility. It can be intimidating to provide honest feedback when given a sheet of paper to fill out. It never feels anonymous.

QR codes can provide a sense of safety that encourages your community to react openly and honestly, giving you useful data. For example: Back in the early days of QR Codes, Planned Parenthood gave over 55,000 college students condoms with QR code wrappers. Not only was it an eye-catching marketing strategy that promoted safe sex habits, but it allowed the non-profit to view data of the condom user with every scan. 

Cool ways we’ve used QR codes

We’ll admit, four years ago, whenever a client suggested a QR code, we would quickly say, “They’re pointless. No one knows how to use them.” But now, we see the error of our ways, and those nerdy clients were right. Village Oak Creative is Team QR Code through and through! Here are some cool ways we’ve incorporated them into our client’s campaigns recently:

Women wearing a black shirt with a large QR code on the back.

Back of T-shirt

If you have an upcoming event where you will be ordering t-shirts, save some room on the back for a QR code! The QR code can direct folks to:

  •  Your homepage: This is the easiest and a good idea if your URLs change or you seasonally hide content (i.e. the event page after the event is completed).
  • Donation page: Perfect if you have a lot of volunteers who will be wearing the shirt at a fundraising event
  • Call to Action: Raise awareness about an advocacy effort your organization is a part of. 



Another great option for your organization to share information at an event is putting QR codes on display. It can be as simple as posters and yard signs with the QR code to share more information or part of a bigger piece that shares print collateral and is used as a CTA to get more involved. 

Annual Report and Appeals

Adding a QR code to your annual reports and appeals should be standard practice. On an annual appeal, it allows donors to easily scan and donate the second they open your appeal letter in the mail. And for annual reports, after you’ve met with a potential sponsor, they can quickly scan and commit to a sponsorship level as soon as the meeting is over. 


I don’t know about you, but I’m getting hungry…to use QR codes! Am I right? As we move into a less physically engaging society, it is important to adapt without losing sight of your mission.

QR codes are a simple way to gather information on your end while providing a convenient way for stakeholders to learn more about your organization. If you find yourself needing ways for people to engage, try a QR code. Food for thought.

Hungry to use QR Codes?

If you’re ready to take your print marketing up a notch but need some help getting started, we can help!

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