To effectively recruit and retain blood donors, two main questions need to be addressed: what characterizes our (non-)donor population, and what motivates or hinders these (non-)donors to give blood?
These questions are definitely not new, as researchers in the 1970s already tried to define sets of typical blood donor characteristics. Although these studies gave useful insights in donors and their motivations, the research methods were static, without taking in mind that people and their behaviour might change.
In our view, the so called ‘donor careers’ (donor behaviour during an individuals’ life) are essential in addressing the right people at the right time. For example, donors who give blood for the first-time are more likely to be motivated by peer pressure from friends and family than experienced donors, while these experienced donors are more likely to be motivated by a sense of ‘blood donor identity’. They feel that donating blood is a part of the self and has become more of a habit. These changing motivations during the donor career ask for more personalized recruitment and retention campaigns.
To get a better understanding of donor behaviour over time, we wonder what influences motivational change. Recent studies show that some of the most important reasons for donors to lapse or reduce their donation frequency are health reasons related to childbirth, time constraints due to work, study or family responsibilities, and changing jobs.
It might be possible that these life events cause trigger a specific individual motivation to donate. For example, health-related events like the death of a relative might confront someone with the need for blood, increasing the so called ‘awareness of need’ or feelings of social responsibility, making it more likely that a person starts donating or increases his or her donation frequency.
Longitudinal analyses of Sanquin registry data and the Giving in the Netherlands Panel Survey (Centre for Philanthropic Studies, VU Amsterdam) gives us the opportunity to explore this understudied field in blood donor research.
Two main objectives of this project are:
- Mapping individual donor careers and the influence of life events on donor behaviour
- Exploring how certain life events trigger motivations and subsequent donor behaviour
The donor careers project has started in December 2015 and will run for 4 years. The first results are expected mid-2017.