A Lifeline for Virginia’s
Organ Donation Registry

How compelling content can spark a movement

About the Project

Organ DonationIt doesn’t get more personal than life and death. Just ask anyone who has received a life-saving organ transplant, or anyone who has listened to their loved one’s heart beat in another’s chest.

Choosing to become an organ donor is just about the simplest, and most powerful decision you can make. Just one person can save 8 lives paying it forward through organ donation. But death is an incredibly difficult topic to discuss, which is why so many put the decision off or eliminate it as an option altogether. As a result, roughly 8,000 people will die this year because they couldn’t get a transplant in time.

Most of us believe in the concept. It’s the commitment that makes some of us squeamish. A 2012 Gallup study reported that 95% of Americans support the idea of organ donation, but only 54% actually register. While registration is steadily increasing nationally, there is still a long way to go before the program can meet the demand.

Similar statistics are reflected in state registration rates, including Virginia. With roughly 60% of Virginia adults signed up as registered organ donors in 2015, Donate Life Virginia hired us to inspire the 40 percent still holding out.


Research is at the core of any successful plan. We worked closely with the client to learn as much as we could about the Donate Life community and to understand the specific challenges in Virginia. Our findings from an in-depth review of the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats revealed:

  • A passionate, but under-utilized advocacy base
  • A wealth of data, unavailable to the public
  • An untapped goldmine of compelling stories
  • An outdated website with limited functions

Give your choir something they can sing together

No one is more passionate about donor registration in Virginia than members of its Donate Life community. Most have been personally impacted by the gift of life and never tire of honoring the generosity of the donors.

But without a strategic marketing plan, members were taking off in all directions to promote the cause. We needed to tap into the organization’s energetic base and give them the tools to inspire change in their communities.

Static websites are so 1990

Out of the gate, we knew the website needed an upgrade. As it stood, after someone registered, the transaction was over and there was virtually no reason to return to the site. No stories for new, passionate advocates to share with friends and family. No opportunity to spread the word about their new donor status on social media. No Virginia-specific statistics enterprising journalists could run across. No compelling factoids to help debunk myths and educate skeptics.

We refreshed the online brand and transformed the website into a multi-media hub of useful, Virginia-specific information, resources and stories to draw people in organically through search, compel skeptics to register and provide advocates with the tools to spread the word.

Donate Life - Previous Website
blog writing sample
brand standards- Donate Life
Motion graphics - design - Donate Life

"Our partnership with VANCE affords us the ability to be current, relevant and agile in the always-changing landscape of public awareness. Their creative spirit energizes our membership and brings tangible results to our vision. But most importantly, Kelly and her team share our dedication and passion for this life-saving mission" - Debbie Anderson, Donate Life Virginia

blog examples - Donate Life

A Lifeline for Virginia’s organ donor registry

A NASCAR driver pays it forwardWith regard to content, the data and the stories were there. We just needed the organization to leverage these assets and start thinking of itself a media network.

All too often, brands guess at the stories they think their audience wants to read, or worse, don’t think about their audience at all. Creating content that inspires action requires taking interest in your readership and providing them with something they value.

By design, Lifeline powers Donate Life Virginia’s communications initiative, inspiring skeptics to register and advocates to champion the cause.

The blog’s sole purpose is to illustrate the impact of organ donation in Virginia. Modeled after St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic blogs, the publication features Virginians impacted by organ donation, including organ recipients, donor families, living donors, people on the waiting list and also includes the perspectives of faith leaders, medical professionals and others.

Each story in Lifeline has been carefully researched and thoughtfully written to educate and inspire the reader. Style guidelines for the publication ensure the stories are aligned in tone, style, voice and format. Editorial is planned months in advance and is determined by a number of factors, including news value and SEO.

An added benefit of the influx of stories was the curation of multi-media content we could use to secure press coverage and fuel social media and digital marketing campaigns to connect with prospective donors and promote the newly launched website.

All too often, brands guess at the stories they think their audience wants to read, or worse, don’t think about their audience at all. Creating content that inspires action requires taking interest in your readership and providing them with something they value.


Donate Life Virginia’s integrated content strategy significantly heightened the organization’s brand visibility and strengthened relationships with its most valuable asset – its base. It has successfully drawn in prospective donors and motivates them to take up the cause.


In its first year, registrations surged by 12.6% and a grassroots movement to Say YES to organ donation was born.

The Takeaway

Compelling content is in the eye of the beholder. Do you know who you are writing for?
12.6% increase in donor registrations
330% surge in web traffic
3:17 minutes per user spent on Lifeline pages
5 points up in domain authority
37% more social media engagement
39% more email subscribers
5 Lifeline stories picked up by local media

804-424-1475   |   1657 W. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23220   |   hello@vanceagency.com