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QR Codes for Nonprofit Marketing

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

There are hundreds of articles explaining the usefulness of QR codes for businesses but rarely have I seen an article explaining this amazing tool and how it can improve the nonprofit marketing efforts. Bear in mind, I’m taking the liberty of assuming that everybody uses Google analytics.


QR Codes are perfect for nonprofits! They are exploding in popularity once again in 2021 and if used properly, they can help you dissect and analyze the traffic created from flyers, donation boxes, stickers, leaflets, etc.

Why you ask? Well, they allow us to not only send people directly into a video, article, landing page, donation page, funnel, etc. But also to easily track the what, where and when much easier than before. And data, as we all know, when interpreted right, is priceless.

If you work within a charity or nonprofit, you probably have seen that every piece of offline content has a URL or website. Some may have had a QR Code but was rarely used by the public and in most cases, they where just direct links to the homepage. right? Well, in this article I want to delve into what they are, how they work and why you should include UTM parameters into every link.


Now, the right way for nonprofits to use QR Codes for marketing and fundraising is by utilizing UTM parameters on the link from which you create the QR code. Now, Quick Response codes as we all know are visual links or matrix bar code that sends the reader to a website or app and when done correctly, we can see a lot of information on our google analytics.

UTM Parameters on Google Analytics
UTM Parameters on Google Analytics

What are UTM parameters?

So, we know that QR codes can store a URL, now we want to make that same URL tell us something more and here is where UTM parameters come in.

URL with UTM parameters — Bauslabs marketing blog example
URL with UTM parameters

UTM parameters (also called tags or codes), are pieces of text that allow analytics software like Google Analytics to track campaign traffic. Attaching them to the end of a URL can help you figure out answers to questions as like “Which fundraising poster and campaign did this donor came from?”

The five types of UTM parameters you can add to your content to help track traffic. The more you use them, the more your analytics platform will be able to show you.

  • utm_source (Required) The source that is sending the traffic.

  • utm_medium (Required) The marketing medium where the link was shared.

  • utm_campaign (Required) The name of your unique campaign.

  • utm_term (Optional) The keywords tied to your campaign (used for CPC campaigns — not here).

  • utm_content (Optional) Phrases that differentiate similar content on the same page, such as unique call to actions or buttons.


Lets build one together

Lets assume you are thinking of placing some beautiful leaflets promoting your nonprofit saving abandoned dogs.

You decide you will place them in local shops but you will do 2 or 3 designs with different call to actions with one simple objective: get people to go to your website and donate or better yet, become a monthly donor.

After you place them, how would you know what sparked more interest, which one made more people donate and if there is a difference, which one made more people become regular donors.

Here is where UTM parameters come in handy but a word of advice, once you decide on a parameter, be consistent so that the data is clean afterwords.

Let say your website is

  • Our utm_source could be for example “localstores” or “madridstores” or “localpharmacies”.

  • Our utm_medium could be “qrcode”, “leaflet” or “qrleaflet”.

  • Our utm_campaign could be “julydogs01” and “julydogs02” if you have two different campaigns running.

  • Our utm_content could be “calltoaction1” and “calltoaction2” if you have 2 different call to actions for each campaign or overall designs.

URL result:

Now we are ready to create our QR Code. We can go to any page like for example (there are many, just grabbed the first one I saw on google) and voila:

QR code example with UTM parameters on the URL


Successful use cases: QR Codes + UTM parameters Raising awareness with art

Artiful is a beautiful canvas art eCommerce with a social twist, some collections and pieces help nonprofits. Artiful decided that it would be great that with every piece they sold, they would send a thank you letter and promotional leaflet about the nonprofit they where trying to help.

When approaching the nonprofits to do the design, nobody was worried about tracking the effectiveness of the campaign so we decided that every single leaflet, design and call out would be tracked using UTM parameters — It worked fantastic.

We created a landing page for each nonprofit and send all the traffic created through there, that way we could see if the campaign was worth doing this way or we should find another way to promote awareness and maybe donors. Versatile donation boxes

Donabox is the probably the must-used donation box in the world, at wishing we got to be part of the founding team.

A few years back many clients wanted a new type of box, one that could lead to more information about each donor and facilitate credit card single and regular donations.

Adding QR codes to every display was a no brainer but considering we have worked with nonprofits that have over 3000 charity boxes placed, placing the same QR code was not an option.

We helped them segment each type of store or office and areas of the city. After everything was in place, we could see the difference in credit card donations and cash donations per area and type of place.

Bakeries where high in cash donations and low on credit card donations, but shoe stores where the reverse. And many more insights that shaped the future fundraising plans for that particular nonprofit. And all while receiving more money and using UTM codes correctly.

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