Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business


Management & Marketing


In today’s society, blood donation is dependent on the goodwill of people to voluntarily donate blood without financial reward. There is a continuous need for new blood donors, because the demand for donor blood is increasing, whereas the supply of blood is declining. Three thousand blood donations are needed in Ireland every week. Maintaining an adequate supply is the biggest challenge. Only 3.6% of the population in the Republic of Ireland donate blood. This leaves an enormous potential blood donor base, which if tapped into and maintained could lead to an adequate reserve of donations to meet the transfusion needs of this country.

This thesis examined the role of social marketing advertising in increasing blood donations at a third level college in Cork. Focus groups with students, and interviews with key personnel involved in the blood donation process in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were conducted. The thesis reveals that altruism is still the biggest reason why third level students donate blood. These people have high pro-social motives, having been encouraged to donate blood by their parents and friends. The key role of donors as recruitment agents for the blood sector is highlighted. For donors, donating blood is an intrinsic motivation and any attempt to compensate donors for this donation should be avoided. Advertisements that this segment found effective were ones that stressed the altruistic nature of donating blood.

Non-donor participants were unaware of the whole area of blood and were not aware of its uses or the process of donation. This extended from a lack of knowledge of what their own blood type was to where they could donate. They were characterised by complacency regarding possible blood shortages and a lack of knowledge of blood that blood organisations should find worrying, as they assumed that blood would always be available. The advertisements that they found effective, were the rational-based fear advertisements that challenged their excuses and their complacency and urged them to donate. Blood service organisations should target the third level sector (donors and non-donors) as they represent the future of blood donation due to their life-time value and potential to donate blood. They also have high pro-social tendencies. Waiting times, queues, location of fixed clinics and promotion of mobile blood clinic visits were all cited as pivotal factors to increase donation. This will all aid in the recruitment, reward and retention of blood donors

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