Gifts of advertising space help boost local recruitment during the COVID-19 pandemic

Back in March 2020, many Canadians were glued to their televisions, waiting to hear the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, Canadian Blood Services was also experiencing a significant spike in appointment cancellations, due to early fears around the virus and risk of transmission.

Knowing that the need for blood products was critical at a time when people were at home practicing physical distancing measures and tuning into their local media stations, Toyota Canada, Lexus Canada and other generous partners stepped forward to donate advertising space to help reach these captive audiences and inspire Canadians to book an appointment to donate blood.

To remind Canadians that the need for blood is constant — even during a pandemic —Toyota Canada and Lexus Canada expanded their existing support for Canadian Blood Services at the national level by donating more than $1 million in television advertising and coordinating online and social campaigns to help get the word out.

In their local communities, Toyota and Lexus dealers also helped spread the message about blood donation through their own communications channels and by hosting blood donor clinics.

"Everyone knows someone who has benefitted from blood products, and the potential lifesaving impact for patients," said Stephen Beatty, vice-president, corporate at Toyota Canada.

"Many Canadians are looking for a way to help their community during this pandemic and donating blood is one way they can make an important difference. [We wanted to] help spread the message that blood will continue to be necessary to help patients in Canada in the months ahead."

Toyota Canada and Lexus Canada are not the only generous supporters who stepped up to help us reach local markets through advertising channels.

At a time when the need for blood products was critical, several clients of Canadian marketing and advertising agency MediaCom also chose to donate to Canadian Blood Services the advertising time they had already purchased. This helped us to quickly get the important message out that patients across the country were still depending on lifesaving donations and that donating blood in Canada continued to be safe.

When Canadian Blood Services was facing a spike in appointment cancellations in March 2020, for instance, British Columbia Lottery Corporation, donated purchased television and radio advertising space to help boost blood donor recruitment in local markets in BC.

Branded Cities and Pfizer Canada also donated television advertising time throughout April-June 2020 to help spread awareness about the continuing need for blood and to remind people that keeping the national blood supply system strong during the pandemic would be a marathon, not a sprint.

As a registered charity, Canadian Blood Services relies on the generosity of our supporters through financial and in-kind gifts to help strengthen our national programs and initiatives for blood, stem cells and organ and tissue donations, and to help fuel research and innovation.

At certain times throughout the year (particularly in the summer months or on holidays, when folks are away on vacation) there is a notable decline in blood donations. Financial and in-kind gifts, such as those outlined above, help us fuel targeted recruitment initiatives and strategies that help give blood donor events a boost when it’s needed most – and that boost was certainly much needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ultimately, Canadian Blood Services recorded a 20 percent year-over-year increase in first-time blood donors in the six weeks from mid-March to the end of April when impacts from the pandemic began. This increase is in part thanks to the in-kind gifts we received from our tremendous partners.

For more information about how financial or in-kind gifts can help support Canadian Blood Services and our ongoing COVID-19 response efforts, visit

You can also learn more about how corporate donors stepped up to help support our national blood supply system through financial and in-kind gifts during the COVID-19 pandemic.