Global Journal of Transfusion Medicine

: 2016  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 69--71

Social marketing of voluntary blood donation/organ donation

Amit Agrawal 
 Department of Transfusion Medicine, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Amit Agrawal
Department of Transfusion Medicine, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi


Social marketing is the use of marketing principles and techniques to influence a target audience to voluntarily accept, reject, modify, or abandon a behaviour for the benefit of individuals, groups, or society as a whole. Voluntary Blood donation/Organ donation is an ongoing movement. World over, it is well recognised that collection of blood only from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors from low- risk populations is an important measure for ensuring safe blood. There is also the problem in the realm of organ donation – due to the shortage of organs and donors for stem cells many thousands of patients are dying globally.The concept of social marketing will add donors to pool and help in overcoming deficiency over period of time.

How to cite this article:
Agrawal A. Social marketing of voluntary blood donation/organ donation.Glob J Transfus Med 2016;1:69-71

How to cite this URL:
Agrawal A. Social marketing of voluntary blood donation/organ donation. Glob J Transfus Med [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Jun 26 ];1:69-71
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Full Text


Oil, water, and blood are the liquids we depend on for life and existence. Oil controls our economy, water our daily activities, and blood our body. It is widely accepted that we are running out of oil and water, but it is not so well known that there is a shortage for blood also. The population is continuing to grow, and resources are declining. Shouldn't the supply of blood be assured for now and the future? While there is considerable ongoing research for blood substitutes, the results are yet to reach the common man. Worldwide, it is well recognized that collection of blood only from voluntary, nonremunerated blood donors from low-risk populations is an important measure for ensuring safe blood. The need for blood is growing day by day as a result of advances in clinical medicine, and the ability to transfuse blood and its components represents one of the great advances in modern medicine. It has made surgeries possible and safer, and it has saved and prolonged countless lives in war and peace. To tackle the perennial shortage of blood, policy should be to recruit new donors and to retain and convert existing donors to repeat donors.[1],[2],[3]

This is also the problem in the realm of organ donation – due to the shortage of organs and donors for stem cells, many thousands of patients are dying globally.

This task of recruitment and retention of donors is an ongoing process, achievable through continuous efforts not limited to days or months.

 What Is Social Marketing?

Marketing is a widely used term in business to describe the communication between a company and its consumers, intended to increase the value of the company and its merchandise. While the word marketing used in the context of blood donation is a taboo for blood bankers, there is nothing evil or sinister about it.

Social marketing is a strategy working on marketing principles and techniques to induce a target audience to voluntarily accept, reject, or abandon a behavior for the benefit of individuals, groups, or the whole society.

The essential difference between commercial marketing and social marketing is that while commercial marketing tries to change people's behavior for the benefit of the marketer, social marketing tries to change people's behavior for the benefit of the consumer or society as a whole. Social marketers employ the principle of marketing for a good cause which, in the context of blood banking, is the recruitment of voluntary blood donors to make safe blood available to the society.

In social marketing, the social marketer does not sell goods for profit but does sell an idea – the idea of voluntary blood donation to the patients, their relatives, and the community as a whole. Instead of selling goods such as a commercial marketer, the marketer sells the concept that your donation is life-saving for someone.

Voluntary donation is one such activity that calls for a change in social behavior.


The primary goal of social marketing is to bring about a change in social behavior. In relation to blood donation, this implies removing myths about blood donation and making available to the community, a pool of safe donors. Social marketing also helps to correctly convey the need for blood donation to the community. This concept of changing people's behavior is the basis of social marketing as a whole be it for blood donation, organ donation, or women's right, children's right, or promotion of world peace.

Marketing is a skill that any educated person can do this task. Qualities essentially required:

Well versed with subject Good listener Polite and calm Read and write in local and National languages Good convincing power Avoid argument Able to touch social strings of donor and family.

 Importance of Social Marketing

Our body is the most important gift given by God. Donation is not limited to blood, but human organs are also donated. However, lack of awareness is the most important reason behind this noble cause. Numerous patients die every year due to the nonavailability of organs and blood. Technology has become so advanced that organs of brain dead persons/stem cells and human blood can be transported very rapidly through thousands of kilometer and transplanted/transfused.

Social marketing is all about behavioral changes. Steps mainly involved are:

Consumer-oriented research – mainly donor-oriented Marketing analysis – Percentage of voluntary blood donation/organ donation versus actual numbers of needy patients Marketing segmentation – In a country like India where 1.25 billion population live, achieving 100% voluntary blood donation/organ donation is a difficult but achievable task Objective setting – 100% voluntary blood donation/organ donation Identification of strategies and tactics – How to handle misconceptions and how to convince donors.[4]

Social marketer needs to address the following issues

Identify your target audience: Mainly, youth for blood donation as longevity of life is more, and once added to donor pool, they will keep donating blood lifelong Identify the barriers to change: The reason why people avoid blood donations/organ donations should be understood and suitably answered Reduce the barriers to change. Making blood donation easier, more accessible, and more attractive by providing good ambience, smiling faces, helping and caring hands with assurance that it is a life-saving procedure Pretest your ideas on a small number of people: Modify plan/strategy and implement if possible on a smaller group and then onto a bigger group to have long-lasting effect Publicize the benefits of change: Words of appreciation of patient/family members who get benefitted make effect much more times.

Steps in blood donation/organ donation movement

Create awareness and interest Change attitudes and conditions Motivate people to want to change their behavior Empowering people to act Prevent backsliding.

Individual or society gain is the primary goal of social marketing. This kind of marketing is frequently used in the United States or Canada in several fields such as health care and social work. This article outlines the main steps in the social marketing planning process: Analyzing the social marketing environment, defining target audiences and objectives, building and implementing strategies and action plans, evaluation, and monitoring. Social marketing is a complementary tool in addition to the work done in routine blood banking by the blood collection staff, communication teams, volunteers, and blood donation organizations with no compromise on privacy and rights of donors.[5]

Traditional tools adopted for donor recruitment

Motivational talks: Social marketing team is appointed for the task who are trained to sensitize, educate, and bring awareness about voluntary blood donation/organ donation. Before scheduled date, precamp analysis is carried out along with motivation talk explaining importance of donation, donor insurance policy, and satisfying donor queries. In addition, one-to-one or group motivation is carried out on scheduled date Publicity (print and electronic, banners, posters, flyers/leaflets, etc.): Stressing importance of voluntary donation College activities: To encourage voluntary donation by college students, various promotional activities are carried out at the college level Celebration of blood donors day and felicitation of regular voluntary blood donors Organizing conferences/CME on rational use of blood components/organ donation: To educate end users, conferences and CMEs are carried out where they are actively involved.

Novel social marketing strategies that are being employed

Reaching doorsteps of donors through mobile blood collection: Donation facility is taken to the doorstep/neighborhood as per donor convenience Telerecruitment: Dedicated telerecruiters with good communication skills need to be recruited to encourage repeat voluntary donation, relationship management and to handle the complaints/grievances of blood donors by making telephone calls and sending short message services. Integrated software for donor database is required for follow-ups [6] Social media: Facebook/Twitter/WhatsApp/Linkedin, etc., is used to propagate the concept and to create mass movement. They are the platforms to discuss issues and provide instant help. These accounts are readily accessible from mobile, and information can be passed to far off and unknown persons and help can be arranged by single click.


Blood is scarce; its demand outweighs the supply. The shortage of voluntary blood donors is a problem in many developing countries including India. Donor blood procurement from voluntary, nonremunerated donors has been adjudged the safest source of blood. The World Health Organization has adopted a policy aimed at 100% voluntary, nonremunerated donor blood procurement by the year 2020.[7],[8],[9]

Donor recruitment and long-term retention are not an easy task because of the dynamic nature of the socioeconomic environment and the human factors involved. The continual research on social marketing strategy of voluntary blood donation is meaningful for the sustainable development of the donor database.

Social marketing is an effective tool for voluntary blood donor recruitment and retention. It involves cost; however, in the long run, it is a cost-effective model and enhances pools of voluntary donors, hence adding to blood safety. It involves team efforts involving blood bank technical staff, blood donation organizations, and marketing team as smiling face and encouraging words have long-term impact. One happy and satisfied donor will add many donors to donor pool.

Suggestions to make a suitable strategy for voluntary donation:

Strengthen the publicizing of voluntary donation Improve the service quality of donation station Social marketing to improve the satisfaction of donors Strengthen the recruitment and management of the donors Focus on retention of regular donors.


Social marketing of voluntary blood donation is a boom to voluntary blood collection and donor satisfaction. Like marketing strategies to promote sale of products, it will be a great help to serve humanity.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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