Group Mixes Birthday Wishes With Appeal

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As flextime, consulting, telecommunications and downsizing make it more difficult for people to donate blood at the workplace, Brooklyn/Staten Island Blood Services has launched a test direct mail campaign to increase awareness and encourage repeat donations.

The organization will send birthday cards to 4,670 registered donors born in February, March and April that serve as a "general reminder and thank-you," said Linda Levi, director of communications at the New York Blood Center and developer of the program.

"We felt we needed to create a bind with the individual," she said. "The card is timely, and the timeliness creates the personalization."

The four-color, fold-over card shows four people of different races wearing birthday hats and heart-shaped pins. The headline reads, "On the anniversary of your life would you consider saving another?" Levi worked on the card with a graphic artist and outsourced it for printing.

The card costs $1 to $2 to print and mail, said Michele Shenfeld, executive director at Brooklyn/Staten Island Blood Services and vice president at the New York Blood Center. Donors who bring the card to the center the next time they donate receive a gift certificate for a piece of cheesecake from Junior's in Brooklyn or a "moussekeeto" pastry from Mother Mousse Bakeries in Staten Island, driving the cost of each piece to between $6 and $7.

Shenfeld said that while the per-piece cost is high, it is "infinitesimal" considering that every unit of blood can save five lives, red blood cells cost $134 a unit and platelets cost up to $600.

Brooklyn/Staten Island Blood Services hopes for a response rate of 3 percent to 4 percent. The program might be used by other organizations in the region.

"I've shared the program with my colleagues," Shenfeld said. "They're going to start their own program in New Jersey, and at other centers they were interested, too."

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