Small non-profits are using QR codes to get their message out.

Technology is changing how people donate to social causes, a trend we touched on in our Social Good report. QR codes are among the new ways in which smart nonprofits are getting their message out, as demonstrated by an innovative campaign out of JWT Colombia for World Vision, a humanitarian organization that addresses child poverty through sponsorships.

In three cities across Colombia, which suffers from high rates of poverty and inequality, JWT set up street installations that mimicked the camps of homeless people (cardboard beds across the sidewalk, garbage bags filled with belongings, etc.). The most striking feature was the absence of any inhabitant; instead, a large QR code was posted alongside the camp. When passersby scanned the code, they saw a video of a sponsored child at school, with the text “Children where they ought to be. We work with the most underprivileged communities in order to transform their living conditions.” People could then opt to read about World Vision’s work or make a donation. The campaign aimed to strike a chord with tech-savvy Millennial Colombians.

More generally, Millennials, the most globally minded cohort, tend to be turned off by the traditional reliance on “poverty porn” as a means of generating sympathy with a cause. More and more, nonprofits are replacing misery with opportunity, making a bet on inspiring a sense of human connection rather than tapping into reserves of white or wealthy guilt,” Nathaniel Whittemore wrote in Fast Co Exist back in 2010In this instance, the campaign presented an image of misery and then gave Colombians an alternate, better vision, showing how World Vision can engineer a brighter future for the country’s homeless.