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Red Cross launches app for blood donors with retail rewards

September 9, 2014

0908RedCross185The American Red Cross is launching its first mobile application for blood donations today to better communicate with its donors, with a retail rewards system that will seek to drive increased frequency.

The Washington-based nonprofit organization had launched its first mobile app in 2012 focusing on first aid, and has since expanded with a suite of apps for disaster preparedness and other initiatives. With the blood-donation app, the Red Cross is hoping that it can leverage the ubiquity of mobile devices to maintain better contact with its donors and to bring them in more often.

“We have a 50 percent no-show rate for blood donations, but through the app, we can send an in-app notification reminder 24 hours ahead of the scheduled donation time and another reminder an hour before,” said Grant Hansen, director of digital for the Red Cross. “I think this app has great potential for us to get donors to come in more often.”

The new Red Cross Blood Donor App will allow users to track their donations, earn rewards and invite friends to donate. It is being launched at the CTIA – The Wireless Association’s Super Mobility Week 2014 conference in Las Vegas this week.

Rewards for donors
The new app features a rewards program powered by WeWin, a division of New York-based Axle Digital, which has an extensive background in social commerce and relationships with several leading retailers and restaurants that will be offering rewards through the app.

“When someone comes in to donate blood, they are donating a physical part of their body, and we wanted to reward them for that,” Mr. Hansen said.

Users who donate blood will get a receive exclusive offers and discounts from the retail partners, which include Legal Sea Foods, ProFlowers, Plow & Hearth, Shari’s Berries, CitySports and 1A Auto, among others. Twelve retailers have signed on to participate at the launch.

Rewards can be either national or local in scope.



Donors can choose their reward.


The WeWin platform is the first application programming interface (API) rewards program integrated into a nonprofit’s mobile application, according to Syd Dufton, president and CEO of WeWin.

“The Red Cross wanted to add rewards from major retailers, and we were already working with all of these major retailers,” he said.

WeWin integrates directly with retailers’ ecommerce Web systems to help align them with the causes they support. Retailers it has worked with include Gap, Norstrom, Footlocker and The Fire Store.

It also offers a Web-based dashboard that allows nonprofit organizations and retailers to further engage with their donors and customers.

The Red Cross Blood Donor App also will offer users the ability to earn badges for reaching certain levels of donations, and can form teams to compete for blood donations.

The app will also allow the Red Cross to issue localized alerts if certain blood types are needed in certain areas.

Boosting frequency
Offering discounts and other special offers from retailers might not necessarily attract new donors to the Red Cross’ blood centers, but it could help to bring regular donors in more often, Mr. Hansen said.

Donors can give a pint of whole blood every 56 days, but the average donor only gives 1.8 times per year, or about once every 200 days or so.

“If we can turn a 1.8-times-a year-donor into a three-times-a-year donor, we can really save lives,” Mr. Hansen said.

Final Take

Mark Hamstra is content director on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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