The news hasn't been good recently here in southeast Michigan. There is a severe shortage of available blood. The blood supply has reached lows that haven't been seen in several years. The publicity about the need for blood brought on by the terrorist attacks of 9/11 has waned, and, once again, the American Red Cross is put in the position of pleading for blood donations.

I have a few causes that make me stand on a soapbox and shout. Carbon monoxide poisoning and poor school IAQ are two of them. Blood donation is another.

Several years ago I realized that philanthropy wasn't going to be one of my strong points; I haven't earned a fortune, and I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. So, I turned to the one thing I could afford to give - blood. I'm proud to say that I am approaching my "3rd gallon" pin.

I did some research on what it takes to sponsor a mobile blood drive. The source I used was the Web site for the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the American Red Cross (

At this site, there is information on sponsorship. It includes the essentials, such as tips on providing a suitable location for the Red Cross to collect blood and details on how to schedule blood donation appointments.

The organization suggests naming a volunteer coordinator from your company who should work with others from the company to help recruit donors and schedule donation appointments.

"Your blood drive coordinator works with a Red Cross representative that guides them through the blood drive process," says the Web site. "We teach your coordinator how to recruit blood donors."

You might want to check to see if your community has a similar American Red Cross chapter and Web site.

Generating Goodwill

I am not suggesting that every HVACR contractor or distributor has the manpower or time to commit to such an undertaking, but consider the goodwill that such a blood drive could create.

The event can be publicized in the local media. Businesses can also send out marketing pieces to customers or include blood drive information in regular mail or e-mail newsletters.

What a great way to solidify relationships with existing customers while inviting prospective customers into your place of business to learn more about you and the care you have for your community.

If taking on such a project alone is too hard to do, you can always partner up with local businesses to share the responsibilities and sponsorship. Together, you have greater marketing strength and more volunteers. My suggestion is to gather up your local chapter of HVACR contractors/distributors and make it a group effort.

If you don't have a local chapter, you might consider calling up some of your peers and working together. What a great way to get to reacquaint yourself with others in the field and show a spirit of cooperation to the community. Think of the good publicity it might generate.

One more thing: The American Red Cross gives away very attractive lapel pins - four each year - to blood donors. Many have already become collector's items. I have complete sets from the last two years. I hope they will be great reminders for my children to see when they get older.

Do the right thing in 2004. If you can't sponsor a blood drive, please give blood. It could be you who needs a transfusion someday.

John Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 248-244-1294, 248-362-0317 (fax), or

Publication date: 02/02/2004