What Do Workplace Partners Do?
Workplace partners make a commitment to educate their employees, members, and/or customers on the critical importance of blood, bone marrow, and organ, eye, and tissue donation and provide opportunities for people to register as donors.
- Workplace partners create and share innovative donation awareness programs, tailored to their companies or organizations. They distribute email blasts, social media messages, fact sheets, and videos to encourage donation.
- One key strategy is Give 5—Save Lives. Workplace partners select one or more dates and give employees 5 minutes during those work days to sign up to become donors.
Is Your Employer a Workplace Partner?
If your company is listed, talk to your human resources department about how to help promote organ donation. If your company is not listed, encourage your employer to become part of the campaign to save lives.
Sign Up as a Workplace Partner
If you would like to become a Workplace Partner, submit your contact information.
Workplace Partners in Action
Partners offer employees, volunteers, or members an opportunity to learn about, discuss, and make decisions about donation. Partners are of every size, very large to very small. All have potential to make a difference and save lives.
Below are stories of some early partners and several newer ones. What we would like most is to feature YOUR efforts. When your organization becomes a partner, let us know what you're planning. Or if you have been a partner for a while and never shared your story, let us know how you are helping to save lives.
AETNA has provided donation information at wellness fairs and making organ/tissue/marrow donation information available at blood drives. Employees were informed about donation via company newsletters, e-mail communications, internal Web site and special mailings. Materials about donation were distributed through AETNA's Diverse Employee Networks, every AETNA Volunteer Council throughout the nation, and six regional Emerging Markets Heads. AETNA headquarters refers AETNA offices to this Web site for a list of organ procurement organizations available to help with local awareness programs.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee launched an education campaign to inform employees of benefit coverage for transplants and create donation awareness with sessions that reached a total of nearly 3,000 employees at three offices in Chattanooga and one in Nashville. Session participants received Blue Jean Casual stickers allowing them to wear blue jeans to work on a day of their choice. The stickers incorporated the Gift of Life Donation Initiative ribbon/heart logo.
CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Healthcare For more than 5 years, the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Healthcare system has participated in Workplace Partnership initiatives to increase awareness and donor registration by conducting internal and external public initiatives which include feature stories, donor drives, and displays of the donor family quilt. They also have provided opportunities to hear donor family and transplant recipient testimonials during special information sessions. In 2009, a special butterfly release to honor all donors and recipients was held as part of a larger ceremony. Says Sister Michelle O'Brien, a liver recipient and an employee of the CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Healthcare system, "Because we recognize the rare opportunity to donate life to someone awaiting a lifesaving transplant — "Giving Life a Second Chance' — we are partners in the crusade to educate our community about the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation."
CORE Small Business Challenge Reaps Big Results
What do hair salons, gyms, and restaurants have in common? The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) recruited all of them to register organ, eye, and tissue donors during their 2019 Small Business Challenge.
CORE, the organ procurement organization for Western Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia and New York, launched the Small Business Challenge in 2018, to engage small business owners in a competition to sign up organ donors. As a result of the 2019 Challenge, 150 individuals signed up to become organ donors.
Fit 4 Boxing Club, a gym north of Pittsburgh, won the Challenge by registering 54 new donors at tabling events and encouraging donor sign-ups at the end of each class during National Donate Life Month in April. “We enjoy connecting with folks in our community and supporting local causes whenever possible,” said Brett Burkhart, Fit 4 Boxing Club’s general manager at the time. “Several of our members even took cards home for their loved ones to fill out, and we had a huge success with the organ donor drive.”
In April 2019, Studio RAW, a Pittsburgh-area hair salon, offered free haircuts to 15 people who registered as organ, eye, and tissue donors. The salon also used its social media platform to encourage organ donor sign-ups by sharing photos and stories of people on the transplant waiting list. The salon owner, Dan Burda, has advocated for organ donation for years, placing messages on social media and a sandwich board in front of his shop.
Promoting organ donor registration at local businesses is effective, Nichols says. “It means a heck of a lot more when the hairstylist that you trust, the restaurant you go to every week, have people who say ‘Hey, this is something you should do.’”
Ford Motor Company, a charter member of the Workplace Partnership for Life, has been an active supporter of the Workplace Partnership program since its inception and has continued its strong support of organ, tissue, eye, blood and bone marrow donation despite significant challenges in its industry. Ford has encouraged employees to consider donation through articles in @Ford magazine, hosting blood/marrow/organ donor drives, email messages from corporate leaders and Lunch N' Learn programs. Ford employees have volunteered their time in the local community, encouraging DMV customers to sign up on the organ donor registry as they renew their driver's licenses and ID cards.
Arizona Brewery Taps Customers as Organ Donors
A brewery may not be an obvious site for recruiting organ, eye, and tissue donors, but for Flying Basset Brewing near Phoenix, Arizona, it worked perfectly. Community service has flowed from the taps since Sara Cotton and her husband, Rob Gagnon, opened the 200-seat brewery and bar in February 2018. In the short time they have been in business, the owners have held fundraisers for animal welfare and provided discounts for first responders. Yet their most successful drive has been in registering organ donors.
During National Donate Life Month in April 2019, Donor Network of Arizona (DNA)―the organ procurement organization serving Arizona―held its annual Heroes for Hope donor drive, and Flying Basset signed up 102 new donors. This was the second-highest number of registrations of all organizations involved.
The partnership with Flying Basset shows what people can accomplish when they “think outside the box,” said Nico Santos, DNA Media Relations Coordinator.
Ashley Siegel, DNA’s Community Relations Coordinator, agrees. “We wouldn’t have thought to ask a brewery to help us. Flying Basset showed the benefits of going beyond the traditional ways of registering donors. We were really moved by it!” said Siegel.
The brewery even made Tuesdays Donor Network Day, when employees wore matching T-shirts to promote donor registrations.
Flying Basset’s owners believe talking to people in a relaxed, fun environment can spread the message about organ donation more effectively than in a clinical setting.“People were surprised how easy it is to sign up,” said Cotton, who is also an ICU nurse and house supervisor for the 344-bed Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa. “Most people don’t think about [organ, eye, and tissue donation] until it’s too late.”
General Motors/UAW’s model program, Life Match, a joint recruitment effort of GM/UAW, has added 3,000 employees (25 percent of whom are from diverse backgrounds), to the National Marrow Donor Program. Other companies are now using the GM/UAW model to promote donation in their workplaces.
Cigna Partnership with Gift of Hope Boosts Regional Donor Registrations
The Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network , a non-profit organ procurement organization, collaborated with Cigna, the global health service company, to boost organ donor registrations among 12 million residents in Illinois and Indiana.
Every year, Cigna employees suggest local charities to adopt as a part of the company’s Building a Brighter Tomorrow initiative. A Cigna vice president, whose wife received a new liver from a registered organ donor, recommended Gift of Hope, which educates the public and coordinates organ and tissue donations in Illinois and northwest Indiana.
“This was a personal issue that our team wanted to support,” said Danielle Honigstein, Cigna Midwest Project Manager. While the Cigna headquarters in Connecticut has been a partner in the Workplace Partnership for Life for years, the relationship between Cigna’s Midwest Market and Gift of Hope is new.
The partnership kicked off in December 2019, with a memory box-making workshop that drew 40 people to Cigna’s downtown Chicago office. Gift of Hope and Cigna staff, donor families, and Cigna’s Midwest Market President, Brian Marsella, made 288 memory boxes for donor families as a tribute to their loved ones. The Kyle Zuleg Foundation , a charity formed by the parents of a Chicago-area teen who died in 2010 and donated five organs, provided blankets to accompany each memory box.
“Cigna is working throughout the year to promote organ and tissue donation,” said Maureen Kwiecinski, Vice President of External Affairs and General Counsel at Gift of Hope. Cigna incorporates organ donation messages in employee health and wellness programs and will give insurance customers the option to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors when they sign up for health plans during open enrollment in November 2020.
“Cigna is really helping us be creative in having a presence in the workplace, getting messages in appropriate places,” Kwiecinski said. “Other things they have pushed us to do are to come up with things that drive employee engagement. That’s why they loved the memory box-making.”
The organizations are working to add a link to state donation registries on the Cigna website, so Gift of Hope can track the number of donor registrations inspired by the collaboration over the year.
The response from all involved has been very positive, Kwiecinski said. “We’re definitely achieving something.”
The Louisiana Hospital Association (LHA) and the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) formed a partnership and launched a program in November 2008 to increase the number of individuals on the Louisiana donor registry by 10% — over 160,000 new registered organ donors — by the end of 2009. Led by LHA's Chairman Bill Holman, President and CEO of Baton Rouge General Medical Center, the partnership was committed to increasing donation education in every hospital in Louisiana and to helping those hospitals become a source of knowledge about donation for their communities. Representatives from 50 hospitals attended the initial training, and 70 hospitals are now part of the effort. One hospital that had sent staff to training sessions organized a Donate Life flag-raising ceremony to honor their first-ever organ donor during April's Donate Life Month. The donation took place one month after the campaign training and the donor family performed the flag raising and thanked the hospital staff for their support. A small rural hospital had its first-ever tissue donor, and when LOPA staff arrived, the Donate Life flag was proudly displayed in the main entrance of the hospital. The goal of 160,000 new registered donors in Louisiana was reached — and surpassed — not at the end of 2009, but in August. The LHA committed to two more years of the partnership and two additional goals were meet and surpassed. The LHA/LOPA challenge helped increase the donor registry by over a quarter of a million new registries during the campaign.
National Speakers Association posted on its web site a letter supporting donation from NSA's president. The letter, reached by selecting the ribbon heart donation symbol on the home page, urged members to make a personal decision about donation and to mention donation during public presentations. NSA also placed an "NSA Gift of Life Donation Awareness Campaign" card, which included two donor cards, in the January/February issue of "Speaker."
Quest Diagnostics chose National Donate Life Month to announce to its employees that it has become a Workplace Partner for Life (WPFL). On April 16, 2010 Quest Diagnostics rolled out its Partnership with posters and distribution of materials to its sites across the country. An internal Website will make organ and tissue donation information available for the company's 43,000 Quest Diagnostics employees. As a Workplace Partner, Quest Diagnostics joins the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's initiative to work with companies, associations, and organizations of all kinds to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation and increase the number of designated donors.
United Airlines with LifeGift launch organ donation partnership
Organ donation is rooted in the idea of hope. This is something that LifeGift, an organ procurement organization headquartered in Houston, Texas, knows well. LifeGift’s Ambassadors of Hope are volunteers from all walks of life who spread the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation in their workplaces and offer hope to those on the organ transplant waiting list.
Kristin Schaeffer is an Ambassador who works as an airport operations supervisor and customer service representative for United Airlines. When she learned from LifeGift’s community engagement specialist, Kristina Ruiz-Healy, that she could bring the story of organ donation to her job at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), the Wings of Hope campaign took off.
The campaign launched in June 2020 with a three-day virtual webinar series featuring speakers from LifeGift who shared the impact of organ donation and how United’s employees could get involved in their local communities. At the end of the orientation, LifeGift challenged more than 1,000 United employees to have at least ten conversations about organ donation and encourage five peers to register.
The webinars culminated in a socially distanced staff event held in IAH’s Concourse C. Five stations were set up to guide, educate, and inspire staff members with organ donation facts and resources.
“It’s incredible how one person can save so many lives by becoming an organ donor,” shared Rodney Cox, Vice President of Airport Operations at IAH, to an audience of prospective donors. “This is something I know so well. My brother was a cornea donor, and today I’m here to honor his legacy and encourage you to look for ways to inspire our community, offer hope and change lives,” continued Cox.
The first annual Wings of Hope event resulted in almost 20 newly registered organ donors, but more importantly, it opened the door for collaboration between LifeGift and United Airlines. Both organizations hope to make the event recurring and expand its reach to encourage more donor registrations.
“Our mission is simple: We offer hope,” shared LifeGift’s CEO, Kevin Myer. “It’s encouraging to know that people are so generous, working together to help strangers regardless of the details. United Airlines’ staff really took this project on as their own, and we have been so pleased with their support and enthusiasm to work alongside us. It's such a privilege to be a part of that.”
Interested in encouraging organ donor registrations at your place of business? Visit the Workplace Partnership for Life and sign up your workplace to join a national network of businesses that supports organ, eye, and tissue donation.
Volunteers of America and Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates give back to those in need
Volunteers of America Mid-States (VOA) provides services to communities in need, like at-risk youth, veterans, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addiction. Through a partnership with Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA), VOA now helps another community in need: those waiting for organ transplants.
Since 2019, the organizations have exchanged services as part of their “Hope and Healing” partnership. Volunteers from KODA support VOA’s staff and clients with services like childcare while they hold meetings. VOA staff register donors by promoting organ, eye, and tissue donation to their employees, clients, VOA Recovery graduates, board members, and other supporters and friends. As a result of VOA’s efforts, more than 429 people have registered as organ donors.
“In a perfect world, you’ll be asked to register for organ donation anywhere, whether you’re ordering something online or checking out at the grocery store,” said Shelley Snyder, vice president of strategic partnerships at KODA and executive director of Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life. “However, our mission is figuring out how to get that question asked now and convince people to register now so we can help others in need.”
Previously, Circuit Court Clerks asked Kentucky residents if they wanted to register as organ donors when they applied for or renewed their driver’s licenses every four years. When the Kentucky license renewal period expanded from four years to eight, KODA needed to find other ways to ask residents to register as donors.
Volunteers supporting VOA’s Recovery program for people recovering from addiction heard that KODA was looking for new ways to spread the word about organ donation and saw another community they could serve. Organ donation is a special topic for them, as VOA’s former Board of Directors Chairman David Fennell was the recipient of a life-saving lung transplant.
“If a courageous individual had not made the decision to become an organ donor, I would not be standing here today. My doctors were clear with me: without a lung transplant, I would not live,” Fennell said. “I’m so thrilled to be able to give back in some small way by participating in this program and helping to encourage more people to become donors.”
Jennifer Hancock, president, and CEO of VOA Mid-States said the name “Hope and Healing” speaks not only to the experiences of their current VOA Recovery graduates but also to the hope that they bring to families across Kentucky.
“Our VOA Recovery graduates are starting new, healthy, and sober lives,” said Hancock. “I believe we can also provide healing for the families of organ donors who have so generously given by showing appreciation, thanks, and support.”
Interested in encouraging organ donor registrations at your place of business? Visit Workplace Partnership for Life and sign up your workplace to join a national network of businesses that supports organ, eye, and tissue donation.
Interested in encouraging organ donor registrations at your place of business? Visit Workplace Partnership for Life and signup your workplace to join a national network of businesses that supports organ, eye, and tissue donation.