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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Find Out More
Douglas McDonald made this excellent observation.
— Douglas McDonald (@DMcDonald01) May 11, 2011
As it happens, Sightsavers do send back a mobile friendly URL. In this case, it's to Gift-Aid.