Be The Match

A nonprofit organization wanted to explore new ways to revamp their outreach efforts. Service design methods, including research and prototyping, lead to innovative ideas for connecting with committed bone marrow donors.

Be The Match (BTM) was challenged by its own success. The nonprofit organization matches bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donors with patients who need transplant treatments for blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. Over 25 years, BTM had built the largest and most diverse registry of prospective donors in the world. But managing such a large registry is costly and difficult, and historically, only half of registrants actually followed through with donations and the percent is even smaller in people of color. BTM asked Azul Seven to help them explore ways in which they could revamp their donor registration process to be more effective.

We began applying a human-centered design lens to the challenge via two distinct research phases. First we observed BTM registration drives in different locations around the U.S. These live events, which often take place on college campuses, are the primary means through which BTM has built its diverse donor registry. The Azul Seven team spent several days studying every aspect of the events from set up, signage and educational materials, to interactions between prospective donors, event volunteers and BTM representatives. In the second phase, we conducted phone interviews with members of BTM’s registry, including those who had actually donated bone marrow or PBSC for treatments, and others who had fallen out of contact with the organization.

Our research confirmed that BTM’s live events are a successful recruitment model for numerous reasons, including great volunteers and representatives, and a clear and inspiring cause. But we also uncovered opportunities to improve the effectiveness of the organization’s efforts. Among these, two big things stood out. First, despite its global success, Be The Match had low brand and mission awareness compared to organizations like the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association. Second, the donor commitment process wasn’t fully clear, so prospective members didn’t always understand the ramifications of what they were signing up for.

“Azul Seven brought fresh perspective and new ideas to Be The Match that have proven incredibly valuable. It’s too simple to just say they’re outside-the-box thinkers, because their team clearly spent lots of time getting to know our box from the inside and out. It was an excellent experience.”

Mary Halet

Central Region Director

Next, Azul Seven prototyped and tested new education materials and registration processes at several live events. We hypothesized that focusing on the quality of interactions with prospects would result in registering fewer, highly-motivated people, rather than larger numbers of unlikely donors. All of the prototyped concepts were well received among test groups. Prototypes included one-on-one interviews between BTM reps and prospective donors to answer questions, a two-step online registration process to allow prospects more time to consider the decision, an educational flyer at the event outlining the donor journey; and an experience map organizing the various roles and responsibilities of an entire onboarding period.

BTM used Azul Seven research, prototypes and recommendations for shifting to digital registration as a jumping off point for internal decision-making around how to best use resources going forward. Already the organization has invested in a campaign to raise brand awareness, and they’re considering a new project to begin sharing real-life stories of donors and recipients as suggested in the insights provided by Azul Seven.

“Azul Seven brought fresh perspective and new ideas to Be The Match that have proven incredibly valuable,” said BTM’s Central Region Director, Mary Halet. “It’s too simple to just say they’re outside-the-box thinkers, because their team clearly spent lots of time getting to know our box from the inside and out. It was an excellent experience.”

  • Research
  • 
Service Strategy
  • Behavior-Change Strategy
  • Brand Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Content Strategy
  • Prototyping & Testing

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