Like most NGOs – struggle for funding. Major philanthropics have pulled out & we are struggling to get funding for certain areas.
A colleague of mine who heads up our integration & anti-racism work had seen an innovative campaign challenging racism in Scotland through blood donation (a handy win-win) which she wanted to replicate in Ireland. She didn’t have me at ‘Hello’ but she did have me at the name… #BloodyForeigners = comms heaven
AND she’d found a funding stream (Act4FreeMovement) which she reckoned she could adapt to suit the model.
From a communications perspective, I loved the fact the anti-discrimination element was almost subliminal within a headline message which nearly everyone can get behind (blood donation). (Knowing the most effective way to change hearts and minds is with a nudge not a shove.)
The challenge was the funding was only for European migrants and, ya know, racism is non-foreigner specific.
And in Ireland there are very strict blood donation rules (for example only last month a 15 year long ban on blood donation from people who’d lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996 for more than a year, was lifted. CJD/ mad cow disease)
Picked Polish as this ban did not affect them AND they are the largest migrant community in Ireland AND there are some strong Polish orgs who we knew would partner with us.
Devised a communications strategy to support the work – brief theory of change, timeline, identified potential partners, series of activities, key messages & evaluation Partners = Irish Blood Transfusion Service. Luckily very enthusiastic (apparently in Scotland this had not been the case) Very concerned about the name though & needed a *lot* of persuasion. Ended up getting additional benefits like a tour of where the blood is stored in St James’ Hospital (great photos!) & a Polish man who worked at the clinic donated blood AND his story. They also had some funding for promotion & created a microsite on their own website. Forum Polonia are the largest Polish association in Ireland which meant they had reach into the target community – could translate the materials for free.
Storytelling was at the heart of this anti-discrimination campaign – that’s our Forum Polonia friend Barnaba doing a tour of the blood storage clinic
Encourage Polish people to donate blood, focus on ‘Day of Action’ Demonstrate contribution of Polish community to Irish society through blood donation
I decided the main channel I wanted to use was Facebook as the drive for this was organic-ish (a bit like forced rhubarb) and reaching new audiences. We did a soft launch in April (press release to encourage people to come forward) and invested in a series of promoted posts from May-end July (in English and Polish), a detailed posting schedule and storytelling to promote the stories of Polish blood donors in the build-up to a Day of Action. We came up with loads of creative content including the difference between donating blood in Ireland and in Poland (hint, more chocolate and vodka in Poland, plus a note for work) and compared the most popular blood types in the two countries. We also did some conversion ads and got 150 new emails & a million-ty clicks for €500.
The Day of Action! The IBTS donated their flagship donation clinic in the heart of Dublin and we gathered a group of donors. A sister event was happening in the city of Cork with the local Polish group and we shared it all on social media. We trended *hard* & only got very minimal pushback on the name. Biggest push back was from non-nationals who wanted to give blood Traditional media also attended, the flagship 6 o’clock news did a package & got a great video package on the top online news outlet.
ALSO: approx 120 new Polish blood donors
A reflection on the day!
We are working with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service and the Irish Sickle Cell Association to plan for a new campaign involving people of African origin. More tricky as there are such strict rules about people born in Africa or who have visited – but who doesn’t love a challenge?!!
#BloodyForeigners Linking anti-racism and blood donation campaigns - Pippa Woolnough, Immigrant Council of Ireland
Working for equality
“How to fudge a campaign to
meet funder requirements & not
completely undermine your