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Saving Lives with SurveyMonkey

Saving Lives with SurveyMonkey


Saving a life might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about online surveys. But the Dublin-based Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) happens to rely heavily on the data they collect from SurveyMonkey in order to accomplish just that–saving lives through blood donation.

Clare MacDermott, the organization’s marketing executive, discusses her current work with surveys at ITBS and how it will inform her future work in donor services internationally.

Welcome, Clare!

Where it all began

As the marketing executive for the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, I started using SurveyMonkey to process paper-based surveys we were undertaking at clinics and soon realized it a great opportunity to transform the research process at IBTS and bring it all online in one complete package. Initially, SurveyMonkey was used to capture donor opinions and clinic practice preferences. I then undertook a study on donor motivation and first time donor triggers. I found that 70% of donors give their first donation with a friend or family member and once they become a regular donor, 70% of them go it alone.

The top three triggers for a person to want to donate blood?

1) Desire to help others

2) Family member or loved one who’s received blood

3) The idea that one day they too may need a transfusion, so give while you can.

I also researched donor media preferences which directed the marketing and advertising strategy towards local press and radio advertising as well as new online communities where our now donors frequented.

Adding social media into the marketing mix here at IBTS allowed SurveyMonkey to play an even bigger role in our interactions with donors. We used their platform to run quizzes and competitions during the World Health Organization‘s World Blood Donor Day celebrations and to reach an online audience which we wanted to grow and nurture. In addition, we ran a blood group awareness survey and results showed that 9 out of 10 donors claim to know their blood type. This disproved our anecdotal evidence where our clinical staff had claimed that ‘most’ donors do not know their type. It just goes to show–you never know until you ask!

Where to next

As a 30-time blood donor, my passion for blood donation and the study of donor behavior is about to take me on a journey to Bhutan, a country which prides itself on having an official Gross National Product of Happiness. They have a modest voluntary blood donation service there with very modern fitted clinics. My volunteer work with this blood service will include a study I’ll embark on thanks to SurveyMonkey.

My research will focus on current donors at the clinic and I’ll be meeting non-donors out in the capital city of Thimpu to capture their motivations on giving blood as well as learn about the current barriers to blood donation. I’ll be seeking insights into donor behavior and loyalty as well as testing some myths, fears and fiction related to this life-saving activity. The findings of my research will be the basis of a new donor recruitment campaign for the IBTS including promotional materials and advertising messaging with the goal of breaking down the barriers to saving lives.

It is now widely accepted that that first blood donation is born out of the desire to help others. This changes when someone become a lifelong loyal blood donor. It then becomes more a case of benevolence, where the donor is doing something to feel good about themselves. It will be interesting to examine these behaviors in a country where happiness is truly part of everything they do. Can giving blood make you happy? I certainly think so.

Please leave any questions or comments for Clare below. To learn more about the Irish Blood Transfusion Service and see how you can help, please visit them today.

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