Raising Money with Coupons, QR Codes

Photo by haroc

After my post last week on QR Codes, two things caught my eye. First, this infographic from Wasp Barcode showing why QR Codes are an easy and portable way to share coupons with shoppers. Second, I saw this article announcing that Coupons.com had just launched Couponsforchange.org. The company is working with Feeding America to give needy school kids lunches. For every three coupons you use from Couponsforchange.org, a kid gets a meal.

It’s easy to use the coupons you get at Couponsforchange.org. You just have to print them… Wait…print them out? Seriously? I haven’t used a printer in two years and I’m dead set on using one now (Ruin my record? No way!). Most of you probably don’t share my aversion to printers. You print out stuff all the time. But wouldn’t it be easier if you could have the coupons right on your smartphone so you could save AND give next time you’re at the store?

This is where QR Codes can help.

You learned last week that despite marketers’ hopes that consumers would use QR Codes to learn more about products and services, people prefer using them to get deals and save money. So when it comes to sharing coupons with shoppers QR Codes are a good option, especially for younger shoppers that are all about their smartphones (which they’ll need to scan the QR Code and store their savings).

The extra incentive to scan the QR Code and follow through on using the coupon is the cause component. You can check out the stats here, but consumers – particularly moms and millennials – are more likely to buy something when it’s connected to a cause.

The bottom-line is that mixing QR Codes, coupons and fundraising makes a lot of sense. It’s a no-brainer for bigger charities that have partnerships with companies such as P&G and General Mills that already heavily invested in couponing. But how can YOU, a local nonprofit, engage a business in a program such as this? Here’s my step by step action plan.

Step 1: Recruit a business to support the program.

The challenge is finding a company that is willing to make the donation on behalf of the consumer (that’s what Couponsforchange.org is doing). Remember, the donation is triggered when the consumer redeems the coupon. So pick an amount the business owner is comfortable with and determine a cap. For instance, for every coupon redeemed the business owner will donate 25 cents up to $2,500. Businesses are happy to be helpful but no one wants to trigger a Groupon-like response that would put the business in the red because of too many redemptions.

Step 2: Create a QR Code

There are plenty of free QR Code generators on the web, but be sure to pick a quality generator that allows you to create a QR Code, to change – if needed – the URL the code points to and to track the number of scans. I’ve been happy with a paid service, uQR.me, for creating and tracking my QR Codes, but there are plenty of other options if you look search for them.

Step 3: Create a mobile page with Google Sites.

You can’t just have a functional QR Code. It has to link to a mobile-ready site that explains the offer. I’m sure there are other options, but I checked out Google Sites and while basic, it’s a good first stop for mobile site design. It’s also FREE. When creating the mobile site you’ll need to decide whether a QR Code or other type of barcode should be included on the mobile landing page. This is critical because you’ll need to determine how redemptions will be tracked. Will the cashier scan a QR Code or barcode to record the redemption (and thus your donation), or will they keep track of it in some other way? One option is to persuade the business owner to award the donation whenever the QR Code is scanned (which is different from linking the donation to when the coupon is used at the register).

Step 4: Promote the offer

The final step is to promote the heck out of your QR Code coupon. Your business partner can help with that. Nonprofits can promote and distribute the coupon to their supporters, but a word of caution. Some states aren’t too keen on letting nonprofits promote their for-profit partnerships. You may want to listen to this podcast from CauseTalk Radio on the legal side of cause marketing. You should also consult your attorney general’s office, and then weigh the risks/rewards before moving forward. As I like to tell people, I like to know the law before I decide to break it. So should you.

Who plans to give QR Code coupons a try as a fundraiser? I’d love to hear and write about your success!