Elizabeth Penniman: October 15, 2019

Blood Donations Have Declined, Can Facebook Help?

New feature alerts users when blood donations are needed


Elizabeth Penniman

Vice President of communications, American Red Cross Services – 

Mitzy Edgecomb, Vice President, Donor Marketing and Communications, Vitalant (Vye-TAL-ent) 

The blood donor base is shrinking, in the U.S. only three out of 100 people give blood. Yet, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. There are simply aren’t enough people donating to help patients in need.

For many people, blood is not something they think about until someone they love needs it and its not there. Facebook is trying to fix this through their new blood donation feature, which allows people to sign up to be a blood donor on Facebook and get notified when blood banks near them need blood. Since launching the tool in June, Facebook has helped to notify users about a nationwide Red Cross blood shortage this summer and alert people in areas unaffected by Hurricane Dorian to help recover donations cancelled by the storm. Similarly, Facebook’s blood donation tool has enabled Vitalant to reach potential blood donors about specific blood type needs to help ensure the right blood type reaches the right patient at the right time.

In the countries where this feature is already available, more than 50 million people have signed up to be blood donors. In two of those countries, India and Brazil, partner blood banks found that 20% of people said that Facebook influenced their decision to donate blood. On Tuesday, October 15th, the American Red Cross’ Cliff Numark or Vitalant’s Mitzy Edgecomb and Facebook’s Hema Budaraju will be available to discuss the blood shortage problem in the U.S. and what Facebook is doing to help address it.

To sign up, people in the U.S between the ages of 18 – 65 can go to their Facebook profile or visit facebook.com/donateblood




Elizabeth Penniman leads both external and internal communications at the American Red Cross, to include oversight of traditional and social media functions; crisis and reputation communications; visual media and public relations for each of the organization’s lines of business. Elizabeth and her team are responsible for communicating the American Red Cross story across multiple platforms to reach internal, local, national and global audiences. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Political Science.


Mitzy Edgecomb joined Vitalant (formerly Blood Systems) in September 2016 as vice president of donor marketing and communications. In her leadership role, Edgecomb led a two-year branding effort bringing 14 legacy brands together under a single unified brand. In addition, Edgecomb sets the strategy for national marketing, advertising and recruitment activities across Vitalant’s nationwide footprint. Prior to joining Vitalant, Edgecomb spent nearly 20 years of her career at BloodSource (now Vitalant) in northern California. During her tenure with BloodSource she served in many roles including oversight of donor recruitment, marketing, donor care, component manufacturing, hospital services and production planning.  Mitzy is a graduate of California State University, Chico; receiving both her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing as well as her masters of business administration (MBA).  Upon completion of her MBA, Mitzy was recognized as a Graduate of Distinction by the CSU, Chico College of Business.  Edgecomb has served as chairperson of the California Blood Bank Society’s donor resources committee, a member of the membership committee for America’s Blood Centers, on the board of the Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals and currently serves on the Donor Management Group of the Alliance of Blood Operators.


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