Use QR Codes to Thank Holiday Supporters

I bet you’ll be sending out a lot of thank yous this holiday season. You’ll be mailing out cards and letters telling donors how much you appreciate their support. Donors expect to get a letter, so you send them one. But does it really communicate your sincere thanks?

I have another idea for thanking donors over the holidays, and it involves one of my favorite digital tools: QR Codes.

QR Codes are offline hyperlinks that link the physical world with the digital world. Like a hyperlink on the web, a QR Code links you to something else. It could be another web page, a video, a song or just about anything else. Just scan the QR Code with your smartphone to unlock what’s encoded on it.

Here’s how to use a QR Code to deliver a personal thank you to a donor:

1. Record a Thank You Video Using a Smartphone

Use the video recorder on your smartphone to record a special thank you from someone in your organization that benefits from the work you do. For example, if you run a homeless shelter, it could be a thank you from one of your clients. If you work for an animal shelter, record three minutes of puppies frolicking in a play area. Don’t hesitate to also involve staff and ask them to thank donors. To thank a special donor, mention them by name in the video.

2. Upload Your Video to YouTube

And be sure to mark it “Public” so the world can see it!

3. Create Your QR Code

Head over to and create your free QR Code. It’s an easy four-step process. First, under data type click on YouTube Video. Second, enter the video’s URL. Third, adjust the color as desired (tip: QR codes scan best when you stick with a white or light-colored background). Fourth, download your QR Code and add it to your letter, card or to whatever you’re sending the donor.

4. Add Instructions

At this point, most people have seen QR Codes but haven’t actually scanned one. So don’t forget to add instructions. “Download a QR Code reader from your app store. Hold the reader over the QR Code to scan it and wait for your special message!” If your organization is new to QR Codes you might want to include a URL underneath your code as an alternative for the digitally challenged. (Tip: underneath your YouTube video, click on the “Share” button to get a shortened URL for easy typing!)

5. Test Before Publishing

Be sure to test the QR Code with a couple different smartphones (e.g. Apple, Blackberry) to make sure it works and will take the donor to your video thank you.

Not everyone that gets your thank you letter will scan the QR Code, or even use the URL you gave them. But the donors that do will be impressed and will love the fancy personal touch.

I’d love to hear about your success with this experiment. Be creative and let me know what your supporters say!