With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which put lives and livelihoods at risk, the United States faced a severe blood and plasma supply shortage—threatening our nation’s health care system and the lives of people who depend on it.
Supply plummeted to a historic low, with a 20% drop in donations. The HHS Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) urgently needed to increase the number of donations to replenish the supply, increase the number and diversity of people who donate, and encourage them to donate consistently.
Formative research uncovered that most people do not donate because they do not understand why they should, and they think the process is intimidating and time-consuming. However, people are driven by altruism and motivated when they emotionally connect to recipients and when they understand individual needs.
We created the Giving = Living campaign to highlight the direct impact donors make in saving lives. By positioning donors as heroes, we showcase nationwide recipients who have received blood transfusions or who rely on plasma therapies and express their gratitude to those who have donated. Sharing their stories in their own words creates the human connection that is necessary to motivate Americans to donate.
To reach Americans across the country, Giving = Living uses a variety of tactics:
• Digital engagement, including English and Spanish websites that address common concerns, share recipient stories, and provide information on the donation process, eligibility, types of donation, and the importance of donation; blogs; and social media messages across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn
• Paid media, including social, programmatic, search, and video ads
• Earned media, including a press release; a satellite media tour with Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine; a radio media tour with spokespeople from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); and mat articles
• Donated media, including TV and radio PSAs and out-of-home ads
• Partnership engagement, including outreach through other federal agencies, industry partners (e.g., the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association), and others
• A competition through Challenge.gov, which invited individuals, organizations, or coalitions to submit innovative ideas for ensuring a steady supply of blood and plasma
During the first 4 months of implementation (September 2022–January 2023), digital ads and donated media generated more than 302 million impressions and drove nearly 332,000 new users to the website. In addition, more than 40,000 users visited the campaign’s donation locators, indicating a strong intent to donate. More importantly, the American Red Cross reports that Giving = Living contributed to increases in the number of blood donation appointments made through their website.
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