Gift of Hope goes online to encourage donating organs

The "I am. Are you?" campaign was a two-fold effort, developed after Illinois passed legislation to allow first-person donor registrations in January 2006. With this campaign, the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network wanted to register new donors, and also ensure that previous donors were listed online - a new component of the legislation.

With a goal to register 3.5 million state residents, the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network looked to the Web to target 21 to 35 year olds. Social media and blog outreach were used to provide a viral component, says Scott Meis, senior project director at Carolyn Grisko & Associates.

"It's in your face, simple," says David Bosch, communications director for Gift of Hope. "This is an every day, every person kind of thing, and it only takes 30 seconds of your time."

The team created Facebook and MySpace pages, in addition to posting videos of personal stories about organ donation to YouTube; started a blog; and reached out to universities and workplaces to encourage human resources departments and college clubs to send company-wide e-mails with donor information and a link to the registration page.

A major success included using mascot Morgan D'Organ - an organ - who had his own social networking pages, Meis says.

The effort hit its goal - 3.5 million registered - in June 2008. In addition, it generated approximately 26 million media impressions.

In June, the PR team launched a second campaign, with a new goal to register 5 million state residents by April of 2009.

PR team: Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network (Elmhurst, IL) and Carolyn Grisko & Associates (Chicago)

Campaign: "I am. Are you?"

Duration: January 2007-April 2008

Budget: $175,000

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