I read today that Facebook is encouraging organ donations. I think this is a great effort and more people should be organ donors. Ultimately I want this campaign to be successful (and it looks like it is) , but I do have a few concerns:
- This feature is kind of hidden away. In fact, I didn’t realize the amount of “Timeline Life Events” I could indicate until I started writing this. This speaks to a larger problem Facebook has with rolling out new site changes without really communicating to their end-users that it’s happened. See the blog post photo to help with finding this feature’s location.
- Life Event or Ease of Use? Part of the challenge in organ donations is that it makes us confront our mortality. I’m not sure Facebook, with its real-time & past timeline focus, changes that mindset. Being an organ donor is kind of like the ultimate bucket list item – one day you’re gonna go and hopefully save some lives when it happens – but does that energy exist as a “life event” when you sign up? Is it easy for me to just “like” that someone is a donor, but not do it myself or declare that I am one? Is the campaign’s success hinged on it being a “life event” or that it’s just easier for people to sign up since usually we’re asked to make this decision only every few years with our driver’s license renewals?
- Other Life Saving But Less Mortality Confronting Campaigns. Why not start with something life-saving that is also giving…while you’re still living?
- Bone Marrow: Why not start a campaign for more people to register as Bone Marrow Donors? Bone marrow donors require a genetic match and the more people who register, the more likely it is that a person who is suffering from life-threatening diseases like cancer can find a match.
- Blood Donations: Why isn’t Giving Blood a life event? According to the Red Cross, “currently only 3 out of every 100 people in America donate blood” and “1 pint of blood can save up to 3 lives.” And if you donate platelets, one donation can be worth 3 single doses for 3 patients – the equivalent of 12-18 whole blood donations.
My third point is also something that can use the communication power of Facebook to its advantage. A Facebook user could receive an annual “Did you update your contact information to the Bone Marrow registry?” or a time-sensitive “It’s been three months since your Blood Donation Life Event. Consider donating again.” Obviously, allow the user to opt-out of these notifications, but I wouldn’t mind an unobtrusive friendly reminder that I should make an appointment with the Red Cross or update my address. It’s better than an ad about something I wouldn’t buy…and it could save a life or three.