’Your blood donation has been used’ - How feedback text messages motivate people to donate blood

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Photo: UHH/Oster Blood donations are urgently needed. Donations can also be made
Photo: UHH/Oster Blood donations are urgently needed. Donations can also be made on the university campus - every Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Von-Melle-Park 5.

In Germany, 14,000 blood donations are needed every day for operations, accident victims or immunocompromised patients. But how can people be motivated to donate blood? A new study shows how blood donation services can inform donors by text message about the use of their donation - with a positive effect.

Blood donations help people in need and save lives. Even though the number of donors has risen again in 2021 compared to previous years, blood reserves are urgently needed.

In a new study, an international team of scientists from the University of Hamburg, the RU Groningen (Netherlands) and Penn State University (USA) was able to prove that feedback text messages have a positive effect on the behavior of blood donors.

As part of a research collaboration, the authors, together with the German Red Cross Blood Donor Service North-East (DRK) and the Austrian Red Cross, have shown in several field studies that this increases the number of donations by ten percent per year and the probability of reactivating inactive donors by twelve percent. In Austria and several other countries, donors therefore receive a feedback text message when their donation has been used: -Thank you for your blood donation! It was delivered to a patient today (University Hospital AKH Vienna) - You will also be informed when you can donate again.

-Based on a conservative estimate of one donation per year on average, this means more than 10,000 additional blood donations for a medium-sized blood donation service with 100,000 blood donors, 20 percent of whom are assumed to be inactive. This effect is significant, as each blood donation can be used for up to three patients," says Besarta Veseli, research associate at the Chair of Marketing & Media at the University of Hamburg.

The study shows how blood donation services can use the available data from the donation history of existing donors to improve donor relations, retention and reactivation. Wolfgang Rüstig, Commercial Director of the DRK Blood Transfusion Service Baden-Württemberg-Hessen says: -The information about when and where the last blood donation was used is a very interesting opportunity to reactivate blood donors from an inactive phase.- Donation tracking is required by law and does not involve additional costs or efforts for a blood donation service.

Michel Clement, professor at the Faculty of Business Administration and co-head of the DRK research cooperation on blood donor management: -Communication about the use of the last donation is important and signals to donors that the blood donation service is investing in their relationship and thus ultimately leads to an improvement in blood volume.

Original publication:

Shehu, Edlira, Besarta Veseli, Michel Clement, Karen Page Winterich, (2023): Improving Blood Donor Retention and Donor Relationships with Past Donation Use Appeals , Journal of Service Research