Four years ago, I turned my CrossFit gym, Shadow CrossFit, from a place where people workout into a fully functioning community blood drive in under 72 hours and it couldn’t have gone any better.
This specific drive that I mention throughout this blog post was set in motion the morning after the Las Vegas shootings that occurred in 2017. Not only did it go well, but we added new clients who had never heard of us before as a result of them coming in for donations.
Here’s a quick and easy walkthrough of how to host your drive in three easy steps.
Blood Drive Step 1: Scheduling
I know this section is probably going to be a very “duh” thing to read, but it’s important to include it and it’s the obvious first step in hosting a blood drive - scheduling.
When we hosted ours, we went through the local chapter of the American Red Cross. The process is simple, painless, and their team is extremely helpful when any questions arise from their donation partners.
To get started you’ll want to head over to their website to learn more about hosting and apply to become a host yourself. Thankfully the application is short and sweet, so it shouldn’t take too much time out of your day. In an ideal world, the Red Cross loves it if you can set up your donation date ahead of time by up to 90-days, but we’ve hosted them with as little as a 72-hour notice or somewhere in-between of around 45-days.
Once you’ve submitted your application, a representative from the Red Cross will be in touch after it’s approved to walk you through the next steps. Speaking of - let’s talk about planning and media for your drive.
Step 2: Planning & Media
One of the best things you can do once you’ve set a date for the event is to contact local media outlets. More often than not, they’ll want to cover events like this, especially in less common places like a local business in the fitness space. Think places like the local news, your neighborhood newspaper, any local magazines or other publications and things of that nature.
For ours - the local news ran a story on us alongside the newspaper dropping a quick write-up both online and printed. The news story ran multiple times throughout the day as a quick “hey this is happening,” while the newspaper ran it once the very next day after we announced it.
When it comes to planning it at your location, this part is thankfully much easier than it sounds! The Red Cross will typically bring food, drinks, etc with them so it’s not something you have to worry about. Your biggest role is to pick a day you want to close your gym, find a handful of clients or friends who will volunteer to check people in, and clean the place up a bit.
Once you’ve done that, it’s onto the next step.
Step 3: Final Execution
Congratulations! If you’ve made it to this point, you’re more or less ready to go host your first blood drive. From scheduling a date and notifying local media to cleaning up the gym and finding help - it’s go time.
The final execution if you’ve planned well is smoother than warm butter. Everything for the most part will flow pretty naturally from here. Show up a little bit early to do any last second cleaning, let the team from the Red Cross set up shop (they’re impressively quick), and hangout at the front desk to check people in for their appointments.
While the event itself is going on, drive some traffic through social media by snagging a few photos, videos, or even a livestream is a great way to increase awareness of your gym. It’s also a great opportunity for you to hand out a small flier with information about what you do to new people who aren’t current clients as they walk in for donations.
In the end? It’s not only a “feel good” event that involves your community, but a free marketing opportunity to raise awareness about your company to your broader community outside of your walls.