DKMS began in Germany 1991 when the founder, Dr Peter Harf, formed the charity in honour of his wife, Mechtild who had lost her battle with blood cancer, following the family’s unsuccessful search to find a potentially lifesaving matching blood stem cell donor. Peter had the vision to change this and create a future where every blood cancer patient has a second chance of life.
Today DKMS is an international non-profit organisation with offices in the UK (opened 2013), Germany, Poland, Spain and the United States.
DKMS have more than 7.5 million potential donors registered within the DKMS family and have given more than 64,000-second chances of life to people diagnosed with blood cancer. The worldwide search for new donors continues though as many people are still not able to find the matching donor they need.
Romax Marketing & Distribution has been working with DKMS UK since 2015 managing their printed communication which includes printing, fulfilment and distributing their DNA Swab Pack to potential donors who registered via the DKMS website, the welcome pack and donor registration cards and others personalised communication.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Nugent, Head of Donor Recruitment at DKMS UK, to talk about the organisation, how they are promoting donor acquisition and how Romax has helped them in this process.
Romax: Please describe your role and what you most enjoy about your job
Lisa Nugent DKMS: I’m Head of Donor Recruitment for DKMS, a blood cancer charity. Our team are responsible for growing the number of potential blood stem cell donors. The role can be varied, one day I might be meeting a patient’s family to advise them on how we can support them with raising awareness and registering potential donors, the next day I could be in a planning meeting for World Blood Cancer Day activities. Good days are when we see a great response to an appeal to find a donor or when a patient contacts us to say that a donor has been found for them.
R: Tell us a little bit about the Organisation that you work for.
LN – DKMS: Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukaemia. Our mission is to provide a matching donor for every blood cancer patient in need of a blood stem cell donation.
Since we launched in the UK, in 2013, we have registered more than 350,000 people as potential blood stem cell donors. Some of these amazing people have gone on to donate blood stem cells, giving more than 400-second chances of life to blood cancer patients.
R: How do you recruit your members/Donors?
LN – DKMS: In the majority of cases potential donors will register in response to a patient appeal – at any one time there are around 2,000 people in the UK in need of a blood stem cell transplant and two-thirds of them will need to look outside of their family for a matching donor. We will work with the patients and their families and friends to organise registration events at places of work, sports clubs and other locations and alongside this will run press and social media campaigns, which include information on how people can register online for a swab kit.
R: What benefits do your donors receive from their Welcome Pack?
LN – DKMS: If potential donors have signed up in response to a patient appeal, then quite often they will post images on social media, either of their completed swab kits ready to be returned to us, or once their swabs have been processed and they have successfully been added to the register, of the welcome pack and donor card that they receive. Seeing those images has a really positive impact on the patients whom we are trying to help and also helps promote DKMS to other potential donors.
R: Why do you like working with Romax?
LN – DKMS: The flexibility and speed of response. The nature of our work is such that we often don’t know from one day to the next how many online requests we might receive for a swab kit. In late 2016, there was a news story about a child who desperately needed a stem cell transplant and in less than 24 hours this story had gone from being featured in a local newspaper to being covered by a national paper. We received more than 16,000 requests in that 24-hour period and nearly 50,000 in seven days. It was effortless on Romax’s part to increase staffing levels and fulfilment so all kits were despatched in a timely manner.