Comparing QR Codes & Text2Give

Photo by .curt.
02.22.2012By

Photo by .curt.

This is a guest post by Tonia Zampieri. Check out her last post here.

QR (Quick Response) Codes are getting a lot of buzz these days, and Text2Give technology is too, but perhaps not for the reasons you’d expect. Both are a result of the mobile revolution, and both provide the ability to connect people with organizations in ways that many could never imagine.

But in what ways do they differ and which technology will deliver the best results?

Since breaking ground in the U.S. two years ago, Text2Give has been the “American Idol” of mobile fundraising. Lots of publicity, created some stars, everyone wanted to be there.

However, the long-term viability of a Text2Give strategy has been challenged. As DonorDigital discovered recently, giving via text continues to fade in popularity. Text2Give provides the ability to quickly give $5 or $10 via text, paid through your cell phone bill, when prompted by a message and specific short code. Record-breaking results were seen with the Haiti earthquake and other highly publicized catastrophic and celebrity events. But this success hasn’t translated into long-term giving, or conversion to additional marketing channels, like email.

Yes, it’s been a low barrier of entry for many who would likely not give otherwise. And yes, the process for a person to give is quick and easy. But set-up and maintenance costs are not sustainable for most. Last I checked, a text to give program cost hundreds to launch, plus a hefty monthly fee for the short code. From a purely ROI perspective, over 50% of U.S. nonprofits, according to AFP’s 2011 New Directions Report, have been dissatisfied with fundraising results from Text2Give campaigns.

And did I mention that it can take up to 90 days for nonprofits to receive their funds?

Are QR Codes the Next X Factor?

There has been a rapid expansion of QR codes throughout the US, Europe & Canada.  Likely you’ve seen them on something, whether it’s been a website, in a magazine or at a bus stop as retail brands have adopted them as the go-to engagement tool for Smartphone toting spenders.   This ability to quickly scan a code with your phone, and then take an action–wherever you are and whenever it’s convenient for you—is, well, powerful.

Why? Because it works for the consumer.

Frankly, we like having something to do or engage with when we have idle time. QR code landing pages, when done well, are engaging and entice the user to act.

I unearthed many new ways nonprofits can utilize QR codes in my recent blog, Are Nonprofit QR Codes the Next Big Thing? This mobile technology provides numerous benefits to the nonprofit sector. Not only does it provide a new way to fundraise, nonprofits can use this innovative marketing tool to engage the mobile generation, cultivating them into tomorrow’s lifelong donors in a seamless, non-intrusive way, when done correctly. Digital communication and online giving continue to replace more traditional, off-line channels. QR Codes offer a great way to extend offline action in the online mobile world.

Because QR Codes aren’t yet mainstream, few nonprofits know what they are and have started using them or studied its results. Chad Norman of Blackbaud has posted numerous blogs about QR Codes, but his campaign comparison of QR Codes vs. SMS/Text by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network speaks volumes.

At a glance, I place my bet on QR Codes. Here’s why:

  1. They cost less to create, implement & manage than Text2Give.
  2. Virtually any size nonprofit can run a QR Code campaign with minimal outside resources or multiple parties involved to collect fees.
  3. Reach goes to Text2Give, since more mobile devices can text than scan a QR Code.  The caveat is that most people over a certain age will not engage beyond the 1X text gift they gave, not to mention Smartphones could be the only mobile option available from major carriers in next handful of years.
  4. Logistically, Text2Give campaigns are tedious. Donor data can be difficult to collect and integrate with existing database systems. QR Codes can bring users to a mobilized donation page that can be integrated with your existing donation system. Costs and monthly overhead are reasonable and well worth the initial hit for the time being saved with integration.
  5. Text2Give has not proven itself as the holy grail of mobile fundraising. QR Codes haven’t been around enough to produce case studies or measurement among several organizations.
Text2Give QR Codes
Cost Loss Win
Accessibility Lose Win
Reach Win Lose
Effort Lose Win
Results Lose N/A

Text2Give is not going away, nor should certain nonprofits stop using this valuable mobile platform. It seems to be losing it’s luster, however, and it is certainly not the only answer to capturing mobile supporters.

Where will you place your bet? Do you know of any successful, innovative nonprofit QR Code or Text2Give campaigns?

  • Nice post, Tonia. I agree that while T2G has been a good strategy, I think its days are numbered. Not to mention the fact that it really hasn’t been shown to work in fundraising outside of urgent events like the Japan Earthquake, etc.nnQR codes are a better option. But the real challenge is making sure that text or QR codes link to pages that are optimized for mobile. We also need a quick way for people to donate from their phones. Right now this is only possible if you have a Paypal account. We have a long way to go on that “donate” button and making mobile giving second nature.nnI talk about this in a recent post of mine on QR codes and near field communication. You can find it at my blog, Selfishgiving.com.nnJoen@joewaters

  • Good post. u00a0Thanks for sharing. u00a0I have looking really hard into QR code campaigns to see if it is something we want to utilize.