Nonprofits to be included in QR code-postage discount

Sorry for the legal wording - this just came in. I'll add more when I get more information. Basically, the USPS will extend the 3% QR code "summer" discount to nonprofits as well:

The Commission finds, consistent with the Easter Seal case, that the Postal Service has not articulated a rationale to justify the differential treatment of nonprofit Docket No. R2011-5 - 9 - mailers in this promotion. 656 F.2d at 761. The Commission directs the Postal Service to make the discount available to nonprofit mailers that comport with all the other program requirements. The Commission understands that the impact of the inclusion of nonprofit mailers may be negligible, given the short lead time before the promotion, but reiterates the principle that the Postal Service must provide sufficient justification, pursuant to 39 U.S.C. 403(c), to exclude nonprofit mailers from a discount or rate on a product that has a nonprofit rate. Id. at 760-61.

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How to Use QR Codes in Direct Mail

Quick Response (QR) codes are becoming popular in direct marketing campaigns as a call to action, but the trick for many marketers is how to use them effectively, rather than as an afterthought.

According to a 2010 report by ScanLife, there was a 1600% increase in overall QR scanning from 2009. The company found that the top reasons to scan barcodes are: price comparisons (81%), product reviews (63%), and to receive special offers (63%). (Click here for the complete 2010 report.)

Even the USPS is getting in on the action, promising a 3% discount in postage rates for companies using standard or first-class rates, and incorporating a QR code into their mailpiece.

What is a QR code?

It’s a 2D barcode, which means that data is stored in two directions and can be scanned vertically or horizontally. (UPC codes, on the other hand, are 1D and can only be scanned in one direction.) QR codes can have any sort of information embedded, such as URLs, photos, videos or text. The codes are readable with any smartphone, but a free QR reader app is required.

How can you use QR codes?

The obvious answer is to drive more business to your website, but don’t just send your respondents to your company webpage. At the very least, set up a mobil-optimized website with analytics, which will give you the ability to track and update your campaign. Consider providing brief, easy-to-understand directions of how to use the code and a URL where users can download a QR code-reader for their phones.

Here are some more ideas you can incorporate into a direct mail/QR code campaign:
  • Add a QR code to a newsletter that will send people to an online page of testimonials.
  • Link to a free ringtone, song, movie preview, or podcast.
  • Point to (good) online reviews of your product or service.
  • Provide more information about the product or service you’re marketing. Realtors, this is a perfect place to showcase a house.
  • Direct your reader to your company’s social media sites.
  • Use QR codes linked to your organization’s donation page to give your reader another way to give.
What to watch out for:
  • Above all else, make the code content relevant to what you’re selling.
  • It’s tempting to cram a lot of information into a QR code, but remember that the more information you have, the denser the code will be, and the more difficult it will be for a mobile device to scan.  In these samples, we used our Facebook page URL as-is on the left, and a shortened URL on the right.

Post Haste Mailing Facebook
page using a shortened link

Post Haste Mailing Facebook
page URL as-is

  • Keep your code at least 1”x1” for easy reading.
  • Don’t link to the homepage of your website unless it’s optimized for a mobile device. And don’t ever link to a flash site – mobile phones don’t read flash.
  • You don't have to make your code black. Any dark color will work (you're looking for good contrast), and even many medium hues. But the key is to ...
  • Test your QR code before printing.

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Charitable Giving Trends in 2010

The 2010 Cygnus Donor Survey is available, and shows improving trends for nonprofit giving.

The survey, which was begun in 2009 by Cygnus Applied Research, Inc.,  looked at how donors were contending with the severe economic recession. The findings became so important (not to mention interesting), that the project has continued as an annual snapshot of philanthropy and a forum for donors to express their views.

First the good news:
  • Giving increased in 2010. 41% of respondents gave more to charity last year than in 2009, while 39% gave the same. The trend towards giving more was especially evident in younger donors and those earning the highest incomes.
  • More than half of those surveyed supported the same number of nonprofits in 2010 as they did in 2009, but 26% supported more and only 15% supported fewer.
  • 48% of those surveyed gave at least one gift in response to a direct mail appeal.
And now the shifting trends:
  • Younger donors are giving to fewer charities than older donors.
  • Donors are conducting more research before making a gift.
  • Support is shifting to favor local charities.
  • Donors are choosing charities that provide measurable results.
  • Finally, donors are reducing support for charities that over-solicit (that is, sending another appeal before acknowledging and thanking the donor for the previous gift).
And we saved the best for last: 79% of donors expect to give the same - or more - this year, while only 7% said they would give less.

How will you use this information? For the complete survey visit

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