A new blood donation programme being launched by New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) today is giving Kiwis the opportunity to save lives alongside their friends and workmates, by giving blood as a team.
Team Red is the latest NZBS initiative designed to boost donation rates across the country, with 3,000 donations now required each week to keep up with demand for life-saving blood products in New Zealand.
It lets any company, organisation or group with three or more people who want to roll up a sleeve – including friends, sports teams, and social clubs – sign up and donate blood together.
Asuka Burge, National Manager Marketing and Communications, New Zealand Blood Service, says Team Red is about making blood donation more convenient and fun, and less daunting for some, as well as appealing to the social responsibility initiatives of corporate enterprises.
“Donating blood is a great way for companies both big and small to actively demonstrate their social conscience, as well as to foster a team environment where employees feel they’re making a real and immediate difference to the lives of 29,000 people who are treated with blood or blood products in New Zealand every year,” she says.
Ms Burge says that, while NZBS understands some employers may have some reservations about their staff taking time out from work to donate, it is her experience that people increasingly want to work for companies who care about their contribution to society, and who include it as part of their company culture.
“The feeling of belonging to part of a team can be a great motivator, especially if you’re part of a team of lifesavers. Since every whole blood donation can help save the lives of up to three people, Team Red offers a rare opportunity for staff to be able to leave the office at the end of the day having potentially saved three lives,” says Ms Burge. “The bigger the team, the more lives they can potentially save.
“Additionally, we know that many people feel more comfortable when they have friends or colleagues donating alongside them,” says Ms Burge. “Whether it’s soothing words or banter, it can help donors relax and pass the time together.”
Ms Burge says that teams who donate at work are a huge help to NZBS, because employers are providing their staff with an opportunity to donate where otherwise they might not be able.
“Anecdotally, we know that one of the reasons many people choose not to donate blood is because they just don’t have the time. If employees allow their Team Red members the opportunity to donate during work hours, or if groups are able to turn their donation into a social occasion with their friends, it’s one fewer trip they have to fit into their busy lives.”
Ms Burge says free shuttles are offered to Team Red groups in many centres, and NZBS could transport them to and from local blood donation centres. For organisations with 80 or more eligible donors, she says, NZBS would even come to them with an on-site blood collection service, and could stagger appointments so they didn’t disrupt regular business.
Team Red also allows groups to receive tallies of their total donations, which they could choose to share or compare with other groups.
“Organisations can even have multiple Team Red groups for different locations or business areas, which can be a great way of fostering some good-natured competition.”
“What’s more, by showing their support for the community, companies can potentially generate positive publicity, which can help to boost their reputation.”
Mr Burge says the first step for those wanting to get involved is to find out whether their company was already a member of Team Red, and if not, lobby the company to join the initiative.
“Less than 4% of all eligible blood donors in New Zealand currently do so. Team Red is our challenge to New Zealand’s business and organisations to step up and become lifesavers.”