Central California Blood Center
Approach to donor recruitment
When Chris Sorensen accepted the job as director of community relations and development for the Central California Blood Center six years ago, she did a lot of research.
"I came to the Blood Center from outside the blood banking industry," she recalls. "So when I first came here, I read everything I could about recruitment and marketing. What stuck in my mind was that the number one reason why people didn't donate was not fear of needles but because no one ever asked them. I decided we were going to ask."
That strategy has paid off for the Blood Center. In its past fiscal year, the Central California Blood Center had more than 69,000 blood donations. Between 1999 and 2004, donations had grown at the impressive rate of 30 percent, turning the Blood Center from a net importer of blood to an exporter."We are now exporting about 10,000 pints a year," says Sorensen. And the Blood Center continues to grow, a minimum of 2.5 percent annually. Sorensen says that the growth has come because of a concerted effort to reach populations that had traditionally been underserved.
"We target long-range goals, short-term and intermediate goals; focusing on different parts of our regional community, such as high school students and our very vital Hispanic population," she says. "Not that we haven't targeted and focused on others as well, but these are two of the largest groups of potential donors."
Founded in 1954, the Central California Blood Center's mission is to provide blood and blood products to the 31 hospitals in a five county area. Yet the Blood Center sees itself as more than just a blood bank. "We're a strong partner in health care and an advocate of future good health as well," says Sorensen. "We're supportive of health fairs, for instance, and if there's an event going on that's health related, we try to be there, either with educational collateral and/or a bloodmobile." Until 2002, the Central California Blood Center outsourced some of its vital testing. In the days following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, circumstances forced the Center's CEO along with senior staff to reconsider their approach.
"Some of our testing was done out of state," recalls Sorensen, "and planes were not flying in the days after 9/11. The need to be self-contained and state-of-theart was absolutely apparent." After researching the possibilities, "everything pointed to Chiron," says Sorensen. The Center signed on as a Chiron customer in 2002. Chiron has been a wonderful partner of ours with regards to testing and setting up the NAT lab, but also in a myriad of other ways," Sorensen says. "They've also helped us in the community with sponsorship of blood drives. We think the partnership is great, and we're very appreciative of all they do."
Having grown relatively quickly, the Blood Center has no plans of slowing down any time soon.
"Our goal for growth ultimately is closer to five percent annually," says Sorensen. "Our entire goal, however, is to have more donors overall, have more donors give more regularly and never have a shortage of any blood type — ever." That means coming up with ways to deal with the challenges that go with the goals.
"We don't want to (ever) over collect because there have been, and may be more, times when the whole nation is pretty secure with its blood supply," Sorensen says. "We may have to ask our solid donors to put off donating for a week or so. The wonderful thing about regular donors is that they understand. The flip side is, you may become (suddenly) low on a particular blood type, and then need to rev up a specifically-typed donor base because of an unexpectedly huge demand. The key to both situations is educating the donor base well and keeping our relationships solid with them and the community-at-large.
Knowing more about different diseases will help you to better understand Novartis Diagnostics' role in improving people's health and quality of life.
Novartis Diagnostics Communication team
Investors Relations team