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How to create QR codes

QR (short for Quick Response) codes are two-dimensional barcodes. When used well they offer a new and low-cost way to engage users with your charity. QR codes could be used in outdoor, direct mail or print advertising campaigns.

This is a quick guide outlining different uses for QR codes and how to create them for your campaigns.

Things you'll need

  • A QR code scanner the barcode you create works
  • Internet connection

Get a smartphone scanner

In order to read QR codes you will need to install a scanning app on your smartphone.

Two reliable scanners are the Red Laser app or alternatively the Tag Reflex app.


How do I create a QR code?

There is a whole array of options out there for creating QR codes, I have listed a couple below giving a step by step guide for the QR code generator. QR codes is a url shortening service which now allows you to generate your own QR codes, to generate a code you need to follow this simple process.

Step 1

Visit, write or paste in a URL address, click “Shorten,” and add .qr to the end of the generated link (like so:

Step 2

You will then need to copy the modified link into a new browser window to view the QR code, which you can then print out, send to your friends via e-mail, post on your blog, etc.

Alternative options

GOQR- a great QR generator, really flexible allowing you to create bring up text message on scanning or if you want to display the QR code in your digital campaigns by easily accessing the embed code.

QR Stuff- Allows you to create codes and offers a whole array of different options such a printing QR codes on t-shirts but you do have to pay for a premium service to receive analytics from scans.

If none of these take your fancy try this comprehensive list of QR generators.


Get coding

Ok, I know QR codes look scary but producing one is pretty straight forward and they have the potential to unlock a new method of audience engagement through your print campaigns. Different ways you could use QR codes include, print adverts, direct mail campaigns or outdoor fundraising appeals on trains or buses.

QR codes are free/low cost to create and increasingly they are being used by private sector organisations and charities, so why not give QR codes a try?


Examples of how QR codes are being used

Feel free to edit this guide with examples of how you've used QR codes in your professional work. Have you used them on business cards, in your annual report or fundraising material? How successful has it been?


This QR code example (on Flickr) is of a promotional postcard for the DAIN project. Scanning this code takes you to the project website. Try it out! If you have a barcode scanner on your phone, scanning this image should take you to the DAIN Digital Activists Blog.


Museum collection gets QR codes - this article in the Guardian shows how the National Museum of Scotland is using QR codes to help people explore their collections.

Further information



Page last edited Jul 11, 2014 History

Comments (7)

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A KnowHow member
A KnowHow member on Jun 07, 2011 06:02 PM

Thank you :)

I have been wanting to create a QR code for a few days now, but didn't have a clue where to start. Following your guide I created one in seconds.

Brilliant. Very pleased :)

Sara Atkinson
Haworth Cat Rescue

A KnowHow member
A KnowHow member on Jun 30, 2011 03:26 PM

Brilliant - so pleased it helped. What did you use one for and did it have the results you hoped? Please do share any learning that would help others here...

A KnowHow member
A KnowHow member on Sep 28, 2011 12:25 PM

We've been using QR Codes for a few months and appreciate that not everyone knows what a QR Code is. We have an A4 sized QR Code onboard our sail training vessel - Challenge Wales - to direct people (who may be young people, volunteers or supporters/donors/fundraisers to our blog. More importantly we explain at the bottom of the image, what a QR Code is, how to read it and how to download the free app. We aim to use them more in the future to help with some of our interactive onboard learning with young people which we are planning for next year.

A KnowHow member
A KnowHow member on Oct 05, 2011 11:08 AM

We have been using QR's for a couple of months, in various places from posters on site at our centre, to direct visitor with smartphones to our various web presences, to including them in adverts so people can link directly from the printed page to our site.

I would say its slow going so far (in terms of numbers of responses), but I think its bound to grow. We are in the middle or printing a new brochure, which will also include a QR code to send people to our website.

The one problem we have had with QR codes so far is an issue of print quality in Newspapers - if the print quality is not spot on, the QR becomes useless - I have found that for newspaper adverts I need to increase the size of the QR within the advert, to give it a better chance of printing clearly.

Depending on where we the QR is going, we have 4 different ones, pointing people to
1) our webpage;
2) our facebook;
3) our twitter feed;
4) our YouTube channel;

Rob Lott

James Grant
James Grant on Apr 25, 2012 04:30 PM

Does anyone know how long a QR code lasts? Does it expire?

Allison on Nov 13, 2012 03:18 PM

I am still trying to find a QR Code generator that when I print them I can change information and the code is updated without having to re print all of the marketing material. I have used qr mobilize but they do not offer a fundraising option. I try to help non profits by offering low cost graphic design and printing.

Heliodor Jalba
Heliodor Jalba on Feb 21, 2013 01:06 PM

If you're looking to have various types of data in your QR code, not just urls, try

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