What donors need, as demonstrated by The Blood Donor

On Bluefrog Creative by Aline Reed, 06 February 2012


I don’t remember how old – or rather how young – I was when I first watched Hancock. I vividly remember, though, whom I was with. My dad. He wisely considered Hancock’s Half Hour to be a key part of a child’s education and at some point we enjoyed The Blood Donor together.

A couple of weekends ago, I heard a clip of The Blood Donor again. Instead of the usual excerpt (That’s very nearly an armful), a different bit was played. One where, having donated, Tony Hancock asks for a badge.

What a great example of what donors want,’ I thought to myself. ‘I must listen to The Blood Donor again.’

When I did, I was amazed by what The Blood Donor includes. It covers everything that’s on this diagram, but in a far more entertaining way! 


In fact, listen to The Blood Donor and you’ll find everything you need to know about donors – their motivations, their needs and what will make them give more. I could only find the radio version on You Tube (click here). But here are the key points summarised.

Donor need – to combat helplessness

Whether they’re giving money or blood, donors need to feel there is something that their gift will do. Just look at why Hancock turned up in the first place.


Hancock: Good afternoon, nurse. I’ve come in answer to your advert on the wall next to the Eagle Laundry in Pelham Road…

Nurse: An advert? Pelham Road?

Hancock: Yes, your poster, you must have seen it…

…There’s a nurse pointing at you – a Red Cross lady I believe, with a beard and a moustache. Pencilled in, of course…You must know it, it’s one of yours…It says ‘Your blood can save a life’

Donor need – to help

This is the most straightforward need of all. We humans are hard-wired to help each other. Here’s how Hancock puts it.

Hancock: No man is an island, young lady. To do one unselfish act with no thought of profit or gain is the duty of every human being – something for the benefit of the country as a whole. ‘What should it be?’ I thought, ‘Become a blood donor or join the young Conservatives?’ But as I’m not looking for a wife and I can’t play table tennis, here I am.


To grow

This is the need, which is probably the hardest to grasp hold of, but the blood donor gives a couple of great examples. The first is the badge. Hancock wanted to show to others that he’d become a blood donor – it had added something to his sense of self. (He was pretty keen on the tea and biscuits to, but that’s another matter entirely.)

But Hancock gets something unexpected out of giving blood. He finds out that he’s has rare blood group, which also makes him see himself differently (and as more important).

To entertain

Well it’s fairly clear that Hancock became a blood donor to entertain – and not just us. He gets to rub shoulders with a not very Scottish doctor, discovers he has a rare blood group, eats tea and biscuits and goes home knowing he’s helped save a life…

…except, of course, that’s not enough for Hancock. He wants to know whose life he’s saved. And don’t all donors want to know how their money has been used? 


HANCOCK (on phone): Yes it is me again. Has it gone yet? Have you used it? My blood! Well you’ve had it for 24 hours now. You said it was rare! Surely somebody must be after it. Of course it’s something to do with me. It’s my blood. Well alright. Was. But you can’t expect my interest in it to cease just because you’ve got it. 

I don’t want to spoil the ending if you haven't seen or heard The Blood Donor before, but let’s just say it also shows that giving to charity is a mixture of altruism and self-interest.

So here’s a quick recap of what we learn from The Blood Donor

Donors give to meet a set of needs – to help others, combat feelings of helplessness, to grow and for entertainment.

Donors’ interest in their money doesn’t cease once you’ve got it – they want to see the difference that their money makes, before they give again.

Donors give in part to help others, and in part as an insurance policy.

But you don’t need to take my word for it, just click here to enjoy the whole episode. There are probably more fun ways to learn about fundraising, but they don’t spring to mind immediately.


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