Crafting a donor recruitment piece: the South African example

Editor’s Note: Tarryn Corlett-Boden, the Operations Manager (PR, Marketing and Communications) for The Sunflower Fund shares their process of sculpting of a donor education piece for their work in South Africa. She also reminds us that some of the more traditional outreach channels remain vital.

by Tarryn Corlett-Boden

One of the biggest challenges that The Sunflower Fund faces, is demystifying the myths and stigmas around becoming a bone marrow stem cell donor:

Many people believe it is a painful process to donate stem cells, involving a lumbar puncture or biopsy. This is simply not the case. Donating stem cells is much like a blood transfusion or donating platelets.

Sunflower Fund donation process

The PDF outlines the transplant process in a friendly pictorial series

The Sunflower Fund is made up of 18 staff members nationally and we are challenged when it comes to reaching outlying areas to educate all South Africans on the process. One of the methods that we used, was to create a PDF which educates the public on the criteria and the process while answering the most common questions that potential donors ask. This document is available on our website, emailed to the public and is also available at the South African National Blood Services, Western Province Blood Transfusion Services and PathCare centres across South Africa. It is important that we kept this document short and concise, while highlighting some of the most important facts. Adding images to the document was necessary as we believe people are very visual and can relate better to what it is that is being explained. Visually it also looks more exciting to read. Our donor information has helped us tremendously with our reach and educated thousands of willing donors.

The apheresis process

An apheresis illustration from the PDF

The commitment of becoming a donor and staying on the South African Bone Marrow Registry until you are 60, is a critical part of our education and it is therefore imperative that a potential donor reads this information so that they are aware of the process and just how big the commitment is. We are recruiting bone marrow stem cell donors, to save the lives of patients diagnosed with life threatening blood disorders like leukaemia. When a match has been found, a patient is prepped for a bone marrow transplant. There is a point of no return for a patient, and should a matching donor decide to change their mind, this could have devastating results which is why the education and awareness is crucial and this is just one of the many methods we use.

Keep in touch with your donors and supporters by setting up a Facebook and Twitter page. We find this works very well, especially for advertising upcoming events. Create posters and leaflets that you can drop off at companies and schools. While it is important to keep up with the times, i.e. blogging and social media platforms, the old school methods of communication are still proving to be successful. Keep looking for new and exciting ways to create interest and awareness.

Links to the Sunflower Fund’s donor recruitment reference page PDFs:

English version

Afrikaans version

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