The Power Of Social Media: Man Uses Facebook To Start A Mass Blood Donation Drive
November 29th, 2016
Even though over 60% of the Indian population can donate blood, India continues to face an acute shortage. Mr. Raghav Baldwa was a young man of 24 years when he decided to create a revolutionary platform to eradicate this issue. He harnessed the power of social media to build a network which would connect those seeking blood donations with the donors. This life changing initiative is called BloodSure.
The Logical Indian recently sat down to know more from the maker of this life saving system.
What made you create this platform for blood donation?
My entire family is very passionate about this cause and we frequently donate blood. My father has donated over 70 times and my mother 30. I myself have made 21 blood donations. For me the inspiration came from the problems of acute blood shortage itself. Since we are frequent donors we would receive many phone calls from distressed people for donations. It was then that it dawned on me, that this issue was very severe. Blood is extremely costly and its procurement difficult; a pint of blood could cost as high as Rs. 3,500. This is not affordable for those from low-economic backgrounds. 50,000 families lose their loved ones from blood shortage every year. Conditions are much more dismal in the rural areas – inevitably, the poor suffer. This is why I started BloodSure. I want to solve this problem – and solve it fast
Tell us about the obstacles you faced when you started this initiative.
Was it difficult to build a dedicated team?
To be honest, there was no team initially. I had to juggle single handedly between my internship, academics and this project. But with time, people started volunteering, they wanted to be a part of this change. As it gathered momentum we started getting volunteers from far-flung places as well. With time we connected the donors to the patients. Initially the procedure was manually– confirming, posting, verifying. However today we have been successful in making this fully automated. Only the confirmation is done manually now.
What are the strategies BloodSure implements for increasing the network base?
When we receive a request from any distressed family, we verify the claims, and then translate the requirements and share the same on our social media platforms. We use a pictorial format for the BloodSure posts because these are more shareable. Digital marketing has taught me that such posts fare better than textual. By understanding the social media algorithms and user behavioural patterns, we time out promotional campaigns and posts based on the peak hours, targeting the best populations throughout Facebook and Twitter. The goal is to find the nearest donor in the shortest amount of time.
How do you fund this project ?
We don’t have any fund requirements as such. When we organize blood donation camps, we procure sponsorships. The man power is solely based on volunteers. We have also recently applied for an NGO status to make things easier.
Do you recall any emotional, defining events in your journey with BloodSure?
One instance that comes to my mind is when a 22-year-old youngster from a village near Indore called us, for his father in Bhopal who urgently required blood for a surgery. I asked him to send the necessary details. I did the needful, posting this request on Facebook and Twitter. However, on that day, I forgot to follow-up. Usually, we call the patient a few hours later to check if they got a donor. That day, I forgot. Six days later, I got a call and an emotional, grateful voice thanking me for having saved his father’s life. He had gotten a donor within 4 hours and it had saved his father’s life. Its moments like these that resonate deeply with me and push me to work harder on this issue. Another incident I remember is when a good friend of mine, Rishabh Bothra, with a rare blood group enthusiastically volunteered at 3 AM, in the middle of the night to donate blood, for a five year old girl who urgently needed it. That is when I realised that there is no dearth of warm hearted altruistic people in this society. There have also been many hardships that i have faced while trying to establish this organisation. In the initial days I used to get disheartened if the people who worked with me did not show the same zeal and passion for this cause. It was frustrating and disappointing at times, but I have learnt to push through and stay focused towards my ultimate goal which is to help the needy, despite of every obstacle.That’s how life is, it is not a bed of roses. Hardships are a part of the journey too.
Speaking of goals, what are the long term goals that you want to achieve?
I want to eradicate blood shortage in India by 2025. There is a shortage of over three million pints in India every year. The number of casualties increases annually, especially during dengue or chikungunya outbreaks. The numbers are much more dire when it comes to the supply of blood platelets. This is a major crisis and thousands are dying every year because of it. Thousands more need not die – it is unreasonable, given the bountiful sources, especially in India. BloodSure wants to eliminate the myths surrounding blood donation and encourage Indians to donate more frequently. This will save countless innocent lives, and that should be a personal as well as a moral goal.
The Logical Indian lauds the efforts of this young man. Join hands with BloodSure in eradicating this issue through their facebook handle: https://www.facebook.com/bloodsure