April 19, 2021 | By: Christian Sutton
As a Donate Life Ambassador for almost eight years, I still learned more than I expected from my internship at Sierra Donor Services, one of four organ procurement organizations under Donate Life California.
Throughout the course of my public relations internship, I developed a greater and more nuanced appreciation for the public education goals and messaging of a nonprofit organization.
For example, I had the opportunity to work with many other positions in the organization including other volunteers, our front office staff, Media Relations Manager and Executive Director. In team meetings for campaigns, I discussed strategic tactics and plans to pitch stories to audiences. I met with industry leaders, where I learned more about the business model of a nonprofit and how to better fulfil its mission.
My first project involved identifying reporters, crafting pitch letters and sending them out to local gatekeepers for #BetheGift day. The campaign raised awareness of the need for organ, eye and tissue donation. Ultimately, this messaging helps save lives by highlighting the #BeTheGift campaign, which encourages the public to register as donor heroes.
I met with California legislators to discuss lobbying efforts, which relate to organ, eye and tissue donation. This event highlighted the power of a personal story. Before our meeting, I sent them photos on virtual postcards with stories from those whose lives have been touched by organ donation. The strategy behind this tool helped us to be remembered by and build relationships with leaders in the legislature.
Throughout my internship, I assisted the public education staff to create a virtual postcard to send to our staff and hospital partners for National Thank A Healthcare Hero Day. I used a creative design that encompasses the Sierra Donor Services brand and Donate Life theme. When these postcards were shared with the healthcare community, they saw the life-saving, positive side of organ donation. This public education campaign serves to build relationships between Donate Life and hospital partners.
Similarly, I was able to craft a message and design for Donor Remembrance Day. This day recognizes donor heroes, ensures they are never forgotten by their family and community, and expresses the depth of gratitude felt by their recipients. – This celebration of life in our organization is a way to encourage our volunteers, many of whom have personal connections to organ donation, to honor their loved one and donor hero. .
As a PRSSA member and a grateful heart recipient of more than 20 years, I know that organ donation saves lives! Since I received the gift of life as a two-year-old, I am now a senior CSUF, I lived my dream internship on the Disney College Program, and I finished a 10K RunDisney because of my organ donor.
But our work isn’t done yet! Nationwide, more than 100,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving organ, 23,000 of whom reside right here in California. Everyone needs to register as an organ donor to off-set the number of people who die waiting for an organ. Currently, nearly 17 people die each day from lack of available organs for transplant. Communication classes at CSUF have helped me pursue my passion because I learned about multiple professional communication tactics in my degree program. For example, video production and visual design in Digital Foundations, media research from PR Writing II and pitching to gatekeepers have helped me pursue my passion and ultimately, intern for Donate Life this semester.
April is National Donate Life Month!
National Donate Life Month is a public education campaign from Donate Life America that focuses on inspiring and motivating Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. Through the strategic use of social media tactics, celebrations and engagements, community members can share their decision of registering to be a donor.
When you register as an organ donor hero and have a conversation with your family about it, YOU save lives! You can be a part of this life-saving mission by getting involved with Blue & Green Spirit Week on April 10-16! Included is a calendar of celebrations in which you can participate to help spread Donate Life awareness in your community!
You can also share your blue and green spirit on social media to share your decision to register as a donor and encourage others to register. To register as an organ donor, sign up today at Registerme.org