Here’s What Happens When a Blood Bank Takes Marketing Cues from a Frequent Flyer Program

Frequent flyer and frequent guest programs don’t have the only loyalty currencies that devalue.

So – it seems – do blood banks.

And it turns out they even use the same marketing language to explain their changes. The second paragraph below is priceless.

Blood bank points expire, too. Because even non-profits understand “breakage.”

While redemption rates are increasing in the New York Blood Center’s program, at least earn rates stay the same, and elite status bonuses frequent donor bonuses remain intact.

And they are giving about three weeks’ notice of the changes. So some travel loyalty programs could learn a thing or two from this blood donation center. (Then again, being a member of a few of those hotel programs that make changes without notice is like getting blood from a stone…)

With thanks to an anonymous reader:

Thank you for being a blood donor.  While volunteer donors like you typically do not expect any special recognition, we created our Donor Advantage Program in 2008 to encourage people to donate more frequently and to thank them for their support.  Since that time, tens of thousands of donors have redeemed their Advantage Program points for gifts and gift cards or have donated their points to charitable organizations.  You currently have XX Advantage points.

To help our program better achieve its objectives for frequent donors and to keep it sustainable for the long term we are modifying some features of the program effective July 1, 2014.

1.       All whole blood and automated red cell donations made at donor centers will earn 25 bonus Advantage points.

2.       The minimum number of Advantage points required in order to be eligible to redeem any points will increase from 600 to 800 points.

3.       The number of Advantage points required to receive gifts and gift cards will increase (for example, a $25 gift card will require 600 points instead of 500 points).

4.       All Advantage points will expire after 13 months of inactivity (i.e. no donation attempt) instead of 18 months.  This requirement will be waived for donors who are temporarily deferred from donating.

5.       The Advantage web site will be upgraded to make it easier for you to view gift options and redeem your points.  We will also introduce a wider selection of gift card options, including e-gift cards which will allow you to get your gift card code via e-mail and enjoy its benefits immediately.

There will be no changes in the number of base points you earn for each blood, platelet or plasma donation.  Frequent donors will continue to earn their calendar year bonus points.

To view your Advantage account, redeem or donate Advantage points, please visit  Your Donor ID number is XXXXXXX.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please call us at 1-800-933-2566 or email us at

We value your support in helping to ensure an ample and safe blood supply for patients who are counting on us.

Executive Director, Donor Marketing
New York Blood Center

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. My local blood bank has a loyalty program too, but I pay no attention to the points structure because there isn’t a single thing in their rewards catalog that I’d want to redeem for. However, the program does have an option to donate your points back, so that’s what I do. I don’t understand the economics behind these points givebacks, but if the blood bank wants them, they can have them. The points don’t do me any good and they’ll just expire otherwise.

    BTW, not at all related to travel, but on the topic of blood donations — The Atlantic just did a piece on people who sell their plasma ( I had no idea people got paid for plasma. Juice and cookies is all I expect out of a donation. But it gets to be a pretty sketchy business when money is involved.

  2. I use points from my Blood Bank donations for free movie tickets. The give bonus points for Sunday/Monday donations and bonus points for each donation past 1 each quarter (good for platelet donators like me.)

  3. Here in RI we have no loyalty program. Is it common? And the inner city where I work had a plasma buying place on the corner. Very sketchy. Not sure any of the people I saw outside that place would pass the most basic screening – they just didn’t look all that healthy. Where does the plasma go?

  4. I donate plasma… supposedly plasma are good for burn victims and newborns….

    here in SF, i use my points for free movie tickets ^_^

  5. Thanks Gary for sharing this information. I was not aware of any such program that encourages thru rewards blood donors to participate in it. As a recipient of 10 bags of blood on my two surgeries early this year, I am extremely grateful to all who take their time to donate blood, regardless if they later earn points or miles that can be redeem for fun things as movie tickets. Any program that provides such incentive to this most worthy cause, is fine by me and actually, I am all for it. Since none of us knows when we ourselves may one day be in need of such crucial and kind donation!

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