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Recruiting, retaining and increasing frequency in plasma donors

Our Donor Research team has developed strategies for improving recruitment, retention and donation frequency among plasma donors (drawn from national and international research conducted in 2011-2019).

  Recruitment Retention Increase frequency
Encourage rebooking


✔️ ✔️
Make it a habit   ✔️  
Donors to determine their frequency   ✔️ ✔️
Availability of appointments and time ✔️ ✔️  
Reminders   ✔️  
Discuss the increasing need for plasma ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Educate donors on the procedure ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Health and safety ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Keep donors' identity flexible ✔️ ✔️  
Address barriers ✔️    
Build confidence ✔️    
Limit the number of requests to convert ✔️   ✔️
Positive attitude and right donation ✔️ ✔️  
Encourage relationships   ✔️  
Reduce the likelihood of adverse events   ✔️  
Consider strategies back to whole blood    ✔️  
Create awareness in the community ✔️    
Have conversations outside the centre ✔️    
Staff Education ✔️ ✔️ ✔️

Encourage rebooking  

Encourage donors to make at least one future appointment before they leave the donors centre. For first time plasma donors who do not rebook in-centre, a follow up phone call is recommended 1,2.

Make it a habit 

Encouraging donors to make plasma donation a part of their routine through forward-booking multiple appointments. 

Let the donor determine their frequency 

Staff should discuss with the donor how plasma donations can fit in with their other commitments, rather than how their lives can fit in with their donation routine 1,3. Suggesting that donors begin a 4-weekly donation routine is an appropriate starting point

Flexible appointments 

Allow donors flexibility with their appointments (wider availability) so they have more opportunities to donate when it suits them1,4. Opportunities to streamline the process to reduce time should also be implemented. Advising donors if delays are likely on the day of donation, or at the donor centre when waiting will improve their expectations and experience.


Low frequency donors rely on reminders to return to donate. Reminders should be sent to donors for the first two years of their donation careers1,2, while donors who may have lapsed due to life changes or long-term deferrals would also benefit from a reminder to return to donate6.

Discuss the need  

Knowing more plasma is needed, and will continue to be needed in the future, is a motivator for plasma donor retention and recruitment1,5. Donors should be told about the uses of plasma and the increasing need for plasma donations. 

Educate donors on the apheresis procedure

Time should be taken to show new donors how the apheresis process works, what they should expect, and to manage negative aspects of the process by providing donors with information and reassurance. If donors know what to expect and have a good understanding of the procedure, they will be less likely to be concerned or anxious if negative symptoms do occur1,2,7

Health and safety

When discussing plasma donation, address the common concerns donors may have such as the safety of red cell return, vein healing, and the impact of regular donation on immunoglobulin levels1,3,4,8.

Keep donors’ identity flexible

Encourage donors to identify themselves as someone who can give all donation types rather than a ‘plasma’ or ‘blood’ donor9,10,11. Identity as a blood or plasma donor does not influence donors’ return behaviour12

Address barriers 

Acknowledge the key barriers of plasma donation but discuss them in the broader context of how it is beneficial in another regard. For example, when talking to donors discuss how a plasma donation does take longer, but it will yield a higher volume which benefits the community. Providing information and support can improve attitudes and reduce anxiety7,10,12.

Build confidence 

Build donors’ confidence about engaging in plasma donation. This should be done by highlighting similarity to the whole blood procedure. Providing positive anecdotes from other donors may also be helpful10,12.

Limit requests to convert 

Repeated requests do not aid the conversation and cause annoyance12. Do not create an expectation that high frequency donation is required. Instead, work with the donor to set their own realistic expectation of what they can give. Tracking these conversations will reduce the frequency in which they occur and save the donor and staff time if they are not required.

Positive attitude and ‘right’ donation

Highlight the personal benefits of plasma donation such as personal satisfaction and the ability to help more people13. Target requests to donate more frequently to those for whom the challenge of balancing work, family and other activities are lessening1. Also, if appropriate, let donors know that plasma donation is the most valuable donation for their blood group to encourage return. 

Encourage relationships 

Encourage the development of interpersonal relationships and routine through regular staffing. Regular appointments enable donors to develop social connections with staff and other donors who donate at that time, creating a sense of community1.

Reduce the likelihood of adverse events 

Test and implement strategies to decrease the likelihood of an adverse event occurring such as water loading, applied muscle tension, interventions to reduce anxiety or perceived pain14.

Consider strategies back to whole blood if needed 

There are some donors who do not enjoy their plasma donation experience. In this case strategies should be considered to convert plasma donors to whole blood if they do not wish to continue donating plasma, rather than letting them lapse14.

Create awareness in the wider community 

Awareness of plasma donation amongst non-donors is lacking15. Creating awareness of plasma donation in the community may prove helpful, and opportunities to encourage conversations about plasmapheresis in community settings should be explored. This approach is ideal for dispelling myths, addressing anxiety about donating, and helping people view donor centres as welcoming places.

Encourage conversations outside the donor centre 

Plasma donors do not discuss donation with family or friends1. Strategies to encourage current donors to spread awareness of plasma donation to their family and friends should be tested. This may be done through donors’ own social media, branded apparel or incentives for recruiting new donors.

Educate staff

Most of the information donors receive about plasma donation comes from staff1,16. The information provided shapes the donors’ understanding and expectations of plasma donation. Staff should be aware of the above strategies when talking to new plasma donors or when encouraging current donors to return or increase their donation frequency.



  1. Thorpe, R., Nguyen, L., Masser, B., & Davison, T. (2018). Intervening to promote high frequency donation among existing plasma donors (Internal Research Report). Melbourne, Australia: Research and Development, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.
  2. Donor Research. (2019). Retention of first-time plasma donors, 6-month return data (Internal Research Report) Melbourne, Australia: Research and Development, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.
  3. Thorpe, R., Masser, B., Nguyen, L., & Davison, T. E. (2019). Understanding donation frequency: insights from current plasma donors. Vox Sanguinis. doi:10.1111/vox.12861
  4. Thorpe. R., Nguyen, L., & Davison, T. (2019). Why do plasmapheresis donors lapse? Developing an understanding of what predicts lapse in plasma donors – qualitative study (Internal Research Report). Melbourne, Australia: Research and Development, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.
  5. Charbonneau, J., Cloutier, M. S., & Fainstein, B. (2018). How do people become plasma and platelet donors in a VNR context?. Journal of clinical apheresis, 33(3), 236-248. doi:10.1002/jca.21577
  6. Charbonneau, J., Cloutier, M., & Carrier, E. (2015). Whole blood and apheresis donors in Quebec, Canada: Demographic differences and motivations to donate. Transfusion and Apheresis Science, 53(3), 320-328. doi:/10.1016/j.transci.2015.06.001
  7. Bagot, K. L., Bove, L. L., Masser, B. M., Bednall, T. C., & Buzza, M. (2013). Perceived deterrents to being a plasmapheresis donor in a voluntary, nonremunerated environment. Transfusion, 53(5), 1108-1119. doi: 10.1111/j.1537-2995.2012.03891.x
  8. Bagot, K., Masser, B., White, K. M., & Starfelt, L. C. (2015). Recruiting and retaining plasmapheresis donors: a critical belief analysis. Transfusion and Apheresis Science, 52(3), 350-357. doi: 10.1016/j.transci.2015.03.005 
  9. Knight, E. (2018). Clinical Study Report- first Appointment Donor Plasmapheresis sTudy (ADOPT) (Internal Research Report) Melbourne, Australia: Research and Development, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.
  10. Bagot, K., Masser, B., Starfelt, L. C., & White, K. M. (2015). Building a flexible, voluntary donation panel: an exploration of donor willingness. Transfusion 56(1). doi:10.1111/trf.13278 
  11. Thorpe, R., Masser, B. M., Jensen, K., Van Dyke, N., & Davison, T. E. (2019) The role of identity in how whole-blood donors reflect on and construct their future as a plasma donor. Journal of Community Applied Social Psychology 30(1), 73-84. doi:10.1002/casp.2429
  12. Masser, B., & Bagot, K. (2015). Plasmapheresis: recruitment, retention and flexible donors. ISBT Science Series, 10(1), 268-274. doi:10.1111/voxs.12147
  13. Godin, G., & Germain, M. (2014). How to motivate whole blood donors to become plasma donors. Journal of Blood Transfusion, 2014, 1-6. doi; 10.1155/2014/752182 
  14. Masser, B. M., Bove, L. L., White, K. M., & Bagot, K. L. (2016). Negative experiences and donor return: an examination of the role of asking for something different. Transfusion, 56(3), 605-613. doi:10.1111/trf.13390 
  15. Duboz, P., & Cuneo, B. (2010). How barriers to blood donation differ between lapsed donors and non-donors in France. Transfusion Medicine, 20(4), 227-236. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3148.2010.00998.x 
  16. Bove, L., Bednall, T. C., Masser, B., & Buzza, M. (2011). Understanding the plasmapheresis donor in a voluntary, nonremunerated environment. Transfusion, 51(11), 2411-2424. doi: 10.1111/j.1537-2995.2011.03168.x 
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