With limited budgets, Singapore Red Cross needed to reach the next generation of blood donors while also leveraging the power of its existing donors’ social networks. The Red Cross Connection app synced up with donors’ Facebook networks, allowing donors to share alerts with their friends and encourage their networks to donate. The app also helped locate the nearest donation center and provided FAQs to first-time donors. In conjunction with an annual awareness campaign, the app increased donations and donors.
Objective and Context:
Every year, Singapore Red Cross faces the challenge of raising the required blood supply to meet the nation’s needs. Despite the support of existing blood donors, the growing demand makes finding new blood donors a critical part of its strategy, with recruiting Singapore youths key to establishing the next generation of blood donors.
Hard objectives (KPIs) for the Singapore Red Cross included:
To meet these needs, a long-term solution was needed beyond a yearly awareness campaign. Singapore Red Cross needed an always-on platform to reach youth and existing blood donors, as well as a way to empower youth and donors to help spread the word when specific blood types were needed. This solution needed to be cost-effective and mobile, to keep young people engaged.
While the target audience for new donor recruitment included many age groups, the youth sector was identified as being key to recruiting the next generation of regular blood donors. Insight into this younger generation revealed that they are active on social media and interested in participating in activities that help establish aspects of their identity through achievements or belonging to interest groups. Another insight was that some regular donors would often behave as advocates, inviting their friends to accompany them to give blood.
With the objectives and challenges in mind, a mobile app was the right solution. The widespread use of smartphones by Singapore youths, coupled with in-app push messaging and the ability to interact with popular social media platforms such as Facebook made a mobile app the practical, effective choice.
The app was built around one important insight: Facebook is used to crowdsource help from online friends. From asking for prayers to finding owners for pets, and even to asking for blood donors for a loved one in need, the community responds positively when the request is from a friend. The Singapore Red Cross app was designed to enhance this behavior, uniting users as a group that commits their personal networks to spread the call for donors when the need arises.
Creatively, youths were encouraged to act as lifesavers — heroes whose simple act of sharing blood or sharing the cause on social media could help save lives. Each donation could help save up to three lives, which the app tracked based on their activities.
Overall Campaign Execution:
The Red Cross Connection app launched in January 2014. Previous above-the-line campaigns had utilized traditional channels such as print and out-of-home, but due to the cost of media, these efforts were seasonal and could not be sustained year round. The app allows the Singapore Red Cross to have an always-on platform to activate its donor base, recruit new donors, and call for specific blood types as needed.
While the mobile app was not central to the general annual campaign, the app was promoted as a rider on the annual campaign materials. It was also promoted through activations at universities and at the blood banks. It was also promoted through a launch video that led to a simple microsite where they could learn more.
The Red Cross Connection app was named after the social connections that the app uses to help activate new and existing donors, as well as in tribute to the connection blood donors have to the people they help save. Once installed, app users create their profiles through Facebook Connect and indicate their blood type. When blood supplies run low, users receive “blood alerts” with options to find the nearest blood donation center and a call to action to share the alert with their friends on Facebook, the most commonly used social platform in Singapore.
Donors can use the app to register their blood donations by entering a code or scanning a QR code on posters found at blood donation centers and mobile blood drives. Users get rewarded with a short animation thanking them for their selfless and noble action. The app acknowledges user actions on their profiles, tracking the number of potential lives saved with every donation, as well as the number of times users have shared alerts.
All app users also benefit from offers from merchant and partner tie-ins sent through the app messages. Core app functions include a message box for blood alerts and other messages from the Red Cross, a blood donation center locator, FAQs for first-time donors, a QR code scanner for registering their donations at blood centers, and friend invite and social share functions for inviting more users and spreading the call for blood on social media.
Due to tight budgets with a main focus on the annual general blood donation campaign, a total budget of SG$25,000 was set for the project covering research, app development, and rollout.
Results show that in 2014, blood donation increased by 21 percent above published targets, with new donor recruitment up 20 percent from the previous year. Results for 2015 have not yet been released by Singapore's Health Sciences Authority.
Launching the app off the back of the annual blood donation campaign incorporating print, outdoor, online, mobile, and on-ground activation in schools, the Red Cross Connection has produced the following results from a total population of just under five million people in Singapore: