I’m not old, and even though many who know me might consider me young (I’m twenty-three years old), I find myself mentally swimming somewhere in between. I will say this, though, Blink 182 was right: no one likes you when you’re twenty-three. Ah…sorry. I couldn’t resist that opportunity.
Generation Y, also known as millennials, believe it or not, are on pace to become the most educated generation in America’s history. We are a generation that lives off of Red Bulls, hard-hitting bass drops, and burning the candle at both ends. According to Pew Social Trends, 41% of millennials have no landline at home and rely on their cellphones for communication. Another stat collected by Walden University and Harris Interactive said a whopping 81% of millennials have donated either their time, money, or other goods to a charitable cause or service. What does this mean if you are a blood center?
Continuing To Save Lives
Blood centers are going to be up against a battle starting (even now) over the next few years. Asthe Baby Boomer generation continues to age, they will not be able to donate blood as often as they do now. According to the U.S. Census, 77 million people were born between 1946 and 1964, which is defined as the Baby Boomer era. Furthermore, more people were 65 years and over in 2010 than in any previous census. Additionally, between 2000 and 2010, the population 65 years and over increased at a faster rate (15.1%) than the total U.S. population (9.7%).
With a disturbingly large number of blood banks already dealing with the issue of ailing donor bases, how does a blood bank reach out to younger donors to bridge the gap? Here are some tips to blood banks based upon my experience recruiting hundreds of Generation Y donors to donate, as well as being a part of that generation.
- Increase the number of college campus blood drives. These blood drives are extremely convenient for college kids on the go. Also something to think about is the fact that we are the most educated generation. I personally like to think that, with college, people get smarter and many people are hip to the philosophy of giving to others despite our self-centered images. We are young folks who work hard all day, party hard all night, get only about five hours of sleep on any given night, and are always going. If the blood bank sets up in the commons of my college, though, I’m ten times more likely to make a donation, since I don’t have to travel out of my way.
- Streamline ways to sign up for or be notified of blood drives via mobile technology.61% of millennials are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference, according to the Huffington Post. On the other hand, you have this stat from Zipcar that states 65% of millennials say losing their phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car. So what does this tell you about us? We are always connected. Gen Y-ers need to have our technology at all times, and you see this reflected in our culture of mobile and smartphone addicts who are constantly on social media. If we have a streamlined, uniform, and easy way to sign up for a blood drive in the palm of our hands what could make us say no to donating blood?
- Create a call to action we believe in. 84% of millennials say that helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition, according to Bentley University’s Center For Women And Business. We see right through the smoke and mirrors of incentives that carry good intentions but little meaning. The problem I personally see with many blood centers and blood banks is that the focus is not on the donor as much as it should be. The biggest message almost all blood banks miss, in my opinion, is a call to action message that is in line with the times and demographic of Generation Y. Focus on treating your young donors like the future heroes they are. It isn’t about free t-shirts or other trivial items like that for our blood donations. Incentives might help with short-term blood needs, but do they solve the long-term problem of giving your donors purpose for what they do? We just want to be recognized for the good we are doing in a more personalized way.
What are some other ways that a blood center can encourage the next generation of blood donors to become lifelong donors?