Seen one of these codes? It's called a QR code. It's a kind of bar code -- so just like a grocery checkout bar code, a computer can scan it to automatically receive information. In this case, though, it's coding a website address, and it can be scanned by smart phones. If you have a Droid, for instance, you can simply take a picture of this code with your camera, and it will automatically take you to the Idealware homepage on your phone. Nifty, huh? This will work with most smart phones, though for some of them you'll need to download an application to be able to read the code.
We're seeing more of these codes in public these days -- they're being used especially on billboards and in magazines, essentially taking the "click for more information" idea and turning it into "snap with your phone for more information." For instance, I can potentially take a picture of a QR code on a movie poster in the subway in order to go to a website that has more intriguing information about the movie.
Nonprofits are starting to use QR codes as well. There's some interesting possibilities -- not just in ads, but also for direct mail and to create virtual tours.
They're free to create-- do a google search on "QR codes" and you'll find half-a-dozen websites that will generate the code for you for free for a particular website address or piece of text. So the only cost associated is the printing, and if you're creating an ad or direct mail, you're likely printing anyway.
So for instance, you could add the image of code to your newsletter that would allow people to easily get to a webpage to sign up for your eNewsletter instead. Or a direct mail piece code could provide easily access to your online donation functionality. A museum could put a QR code next to each displayed piece to allow people to view much more detailed online than could practically be displayed.
Of course, your constituents will need to have a smart phone to use it, and will need to have some idea what the QR code is and what to do with it. It's still not particularly mainstream for that reason -- it's only going to reach a particular segment of the population. But as the population becomes more likely to have a smart phone and be savvy with it, it's likely to grow in usage.
How would you use a QR code with your organization?