Did you know that every time someone donates blood, they can potentially save three lives? Those lives represent someone’s parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent, partner or loved one. Eligible donors are allowed to give blood every 56 days. That means if someone started donating blood at age 17 and continued donating every 56 days until reaching age 76, they could potentially save over 1,000 lives. That’s an incredible impact a single person can have on the lives of others. As an employer, you can multiply that effect by educating employees about the benefits of giving blood and making it easier for them to donate.

The main function of blood is to act as the body’s transport system. It also plays an integral role in fighting infection. Blood cannot be made artificially; it has no substitute. It is up to donors to build life-saving reserves of blood to have available for emergencies. People may need blood as the result of blood loss from an accident, cancer, anemia, surgery or other illnesses.

A study published last year confirmed blood donation is indeed safe and is not associated with premature death. Additionally, donors cannot contract bloodborne infections during the process. A brand new sterile, prepackaged needle and bag are used for each donor. Blood donation itself only takes about 10 minutes, but the whole process can take up to an hour. It involves registration, a health history (which is kept strictly confidential), a short exam, the donation and refreshments. A simple finger-stick test is administered before the donation to check the participant’s hemoglobin levels, the oxygen-carrying component of blood, to ensure the blood is viable.

There are many benefits to giving blood:

  • Donors learn their blood type (if they don’t know it already).
  • It may improve blood flow.
  • It boosts the production of red blood cells.
  • Donors receive a free mini-checkup — their blood pressure, pulse, temperature and hemoglobin levels are checked.
  • A complimentary blood test is performed. (Donated blood is checked for 13 diseases and abnormalities. If any test comes back positive, the donor is notified immediately.)
  • It can help balance iron levels.
  • Donors can enjoy the health benefits that often accompany participating in altruistic activities, such as reduced stress and decreased blood pressure.
  • Free cookies! Participants receive treats after giving blood.

Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood. That means more than 40,000 donations are needed each day. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of the eligible population in the United States donates blood. Employers can play a crucial role in ensuring regular contributions to blood banks by making workplaces available for donations.

Blood donations slump during winter months, making this a perfect time to host a blood drive at your worksite. According to the American Red Cross, common reasons people note for not giving blood include “Never thought about it” and “I don’t like needles.” Bring it to the forefront of your employees’ minds and help remove barriers to donation. It’s a lot easier to walk to another part of the building to give blood rather than driving across town. By hosting an on-site blood drive, you can pave the way for employees to take steps to potentially save the lives of others. Blood donation organizations can set up a mobile clinic in your workplace or right outside the office. (Please note: If your workforce undertakes physically demanding tasks on the job, donating blood then heading back to work is not advised. It would be better to have such workers donate at the end of their shifts.)

Tips for Hosting a Successful Blood Drive

  • Get buy-in from upper management. Blood donation drives are most effective when management encourages participation and leads by example.
  • Schedule the blood drive at a time free from other conflicts.
  • Designate a space that has ideal conditions for donating (e.g., a good temperature and lighting).
  • Form a recruitment commitment, solicit pledges and publicize the event.
  • Come up with a creative campaign and set a goal for the number of lives you’re aiming to save by recruiting employees to donate (this number will be based on the size of your company). For example, one employer had a “Save 1,000 Lives” campaign.
  • Require appointments for donations to reduce wait times.
  • Find out if anyone in your organization has been personally touched by blood donation and ask them to share their story.
  • Recruit volunteers to make sure the drive is a success on the day of the event. If people are unable to donate, this is a great way to get involved.
  • If employees have never donated or are nervous about it, encourage them to pair up with co-workers to set up appointments together for moral support.
  • Make sure employees don’t donate if they aren’t feeling well.
  • Encourage employees to eat a good meal before donating, avoiding anything too fatty (fatty foods can interfere with the tests used to determine if blood is OK to donate).
  • Advise donors to drink lots of fluids on the day of the drive and get plenty of sleep the night before.
  • Let donors know that if they become sick with a cold or the flu within four days of giving blood, they should contact the blood donation organization because bacterial infections can be transmitted via a person’s blood. 

Build camaraderie in your workforce by inspiring employees to work together for a great cause. When coordinating a blood drive, use it as an opportunity to take leadership, work with various groups across your organization, and promote a cause that can save millions of lives each year. All you have to do is provide an appropriate space for donations, recruit donors and schedule the appointments; the blood donation service can take care of the rest.