Background The future demographic changes will be associated with an enhancement of the worldwide shortage of blood. The ageing of the population in developed countries is associated with a decrease in young individuals being potentially eligible to donate blood and an increase in older individuals who might be in the need of blood transfusion. Therefore, the retention of active blood donors (BD) is becoming more important. A substantial increase in blood donations could be achieved by a relatively small increase in BD return. It is the task of blood donation services (BDSs) to elaborate specific and adequate measures to increase the BD’s likelihood to return. Successful BD retention programmes are viable to ensure a sufficient supply with blood and blood components at present and the upcoming years.
Aims To give recommendations for BD retention strategies based on a survey of potential and established measures how BD’s interest could be kept alive.
Methods With focus on the last decade, literature about internal and external influences on BD’s intention to regular blood donation and their actual return behaviour was reviewed. Furthermore, a special aspect was drawn on published articles about established or potential measures to increase BD’s return-rate. Based on this information, different ways how BD’s interest could be kept alive were suggested.
Results Overall, individuals of younger age (< 30–40 years), women, those with a lower education level are less likely to return to blood donation. External influences of friends, family or co-workers are import for starting a BD career. To become a committed BD, however, a high level of intrinsic motivation is needed. To keep BD’s interest alive for a long time, BDSs should focus on the following to increase the satisfaction of the BD: Make blood donation a good experience and as convenient as possible, reduce adverse events and anxiety, and train and motivate your staff. This could be further supported by an intensive and active communication with the BDs right from the start, the application of loyalty builders to establish BD identity, and the appropriate use of incentives. Finally, temporarily deferred BDs should ask to return personally and advertisement programmes for repeat BDs should appeal on personal motivation and moral norms. However, BDS should always try to adapt their measures on their target population considering that people are different all around the world. Moreover, some promotion programmes should be even tailored for distinct subgroups of BDs to have a successful outcome.
Conclusions There is quite a number of ways to keep BDs interest alive and to start a career as a regular and committed BD. In this context, the self-identification as a BD is definitely of major importance. BDSs are challenged to support this developmental process. They have to make sure that blood donation is associated with a good experience for the BD, making him or her feeling good and happy.