Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blood money

The Summer of Service Program, a program that paid people in concert tickets to work for the county government, various non-profits, or to donate blood may have provided the American Red Cross with valuable information on how to draw first time blood donors and/or segment potential donors who wish to be compensated vs. those who want to be charitable.

“This unique partnership has helped the American Red Cross get the word out about the critical need for blood donations, particularly during the summer months,” said A. Ray Charles, Howard County representative for The American Red Cross, Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Service Region. “The County Executive’s Summer of Service Program made a big difference to our blood drive this summer, a time when blood donations are historically at their lowest. The offer of a ticket to the Virgin Mobile FreeFest in exchange for a blood donation was certainly a catalyst and attracted an unusually high number of first-time donors. The Red Cross was able to collect approximately 600 units of blood that have the potential of saving 1,800 lives. I want to thank Ken Ulman for his great idea, and also thank everyone who gave so generously.”

Some people are probably less likely to “donate” blood in exchange for money or other goods, because they view the donation as an act of charity and any compensation for the donation cheapens the charitable aspect. This is probably why the Red Cross does not generally pay for blood donations.

Others would be more than happy to receive compensation for their blood contribution. The people who are willing to accept payment are probably the starving student types who are exactly the same people that want to go to the Virgin Fest. Therefore, offering the tickets in exchange for blood contribution is a pretty good way to engage in price discrimination and increase total blood donations. It would be great if the Red Cross could work out a deal with concert promoters to get 500 or so concert tickets every summer to boost blood donations.