Charity QR Codes – A Missed Opportunity?

by @edent | # # # # # # | 3 comments | Read ~1,149 times.

QR codes are an awesome free resource for charities. Sadly, they are often misused. Charities can use them to drive SMS donations – here’s a quick example of how this works.


Sightsavers is an incredible charity, working hard to combat blindness in developing countries. I’m picking on them only because their poster caught my eye this morning.
Sightsavers Poster
It’s an effective poster with a strong call-to-action; “Text now”. They’ve even included a QR code with it.

Due to the proximity of the code to the text, I thought scanning the code would allow me to donate to them.
Sightsavers close up

The Code

The code is well sized and uses a small URL, so it’s easily scannable.
The only problem is – you guessed it – it redirects to a non-mobile-friendly page.
Sighsavers non-mobile page
This isn’t particularly easy to use, and there’s no simple way for a visitor on a mobile to quickly donate to the charity.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Sending SMS via QR Code

The QR specification allows us to request that the scanning phone sends an SMS.
The syntax is really simple.


That tell the phone to send the message “TALLA” to the number 70800.

What It Looks Like

Sightsavers Donate By SMS QR Code
Scan the code above. Your phone will ask you if you want to send the message. Hey presto – instant donation. No mistyped keywords, no confusion over what number to send to, no hassle.
Scanned Code

Find Out More

I’ll be running a workshop at OpenTech about QR Codes and how charities and government can make the best use of them. Tickets for the conference are only £5 – so register now!


Douglas McDonald made this excellent observation.

As it happens, Sightsavers do send back a mobile friendly URL. In this case, it’s to Gift-Aid.
Gift Aid smsGift Aid mobile site

3 thoughts on “Charity QR Codes – A Missed Opportunity?

  1. jen says:

    How much money does it send?

    1. As the poster says, it’s £5. But it could be any amount.

  2. Tim says:

    I found an example of a very similar use by a charity (helping to find foster children homes), but the QR codes on their posters had the same issue, it simply took you to their desktop website. The potential for these sorts of posters and QR codes is huge, but rarely is this potential lived up to unfortunately.

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