Student rolls up sleeves to recruit blood donors

Canada must recruit 85,000 new blood donors each year just to meet rising demand, says Dan Brown.

The UWindsor student did his part this summer. His work pulling in 50 donors earned him a $1500 Partners for Life bursary from Canadian Blood Services.

“All around us, people need blood,” Brown says. “We don’t realize the chance that some time in our lives, we’ll need it too.”

This spring, Canadian Blood Services launched a competition for students to recruit donors from June to Labour Day. Brown was the top recruiter in Windsor-Essex, earning a $1,000 bursary. His 20 first-time donors was second-highest in all Southwestern Ontario. He won a further $500 in a draw for entrants. He says the competition made a perfect summer project for him.

“It felt like a good volunteer experience,” he says. “I didn't have to ask people for money and I got to work alone, and of course, it’s a great cause. With each blood donation, you’re directly influencing three people's lives.”

He set out to use social media—especially Facebook—to contact his friends and family.

“Most of the success came from what I call 'internet door knocking',” Brown says. “I personalized each message with a three-sentence summary of what I was doing. It worked better than e-mail because people recognize it’s not spam.”

A fourth-year student of behaviour, cognition and neuroscience, he learned a lot about human behaviour.

“It was a lot easier to get people to say yes than to actually commit,” Brown admits. “I understand that some people are physically ineligible and others have a fear of needles, but the worst excuse is to say we don't have time. It takes less than an hour every 56 days.”

Canadian Blood Services is hosting a blood donor clinic today—Monday, September 19—from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the CAW Student Centre’s Ambassador Auditorium. The next campus clinic is Wednesday, September 28, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Oak Room, Vanier Hall.

Editor's note: this is one of a series of articles about students from across campus who were engaged in cool projects and other activities during the summer.