by George Taniwaki
If you are a kidney patient seeking a living donor, you need to start what Harvey Mysel of the Living Kidney Donors Network (LKDN) calls a Kidney Kampaign. A search for a donor is all about numbers. You want as many people as possible to know about your need for a kidney transplant. Whenever you meet someone, tell them about your condition and your story. Then, at the end of any conversation, remember to give them calling cards printed with pertinent information (Fig 1).
Giving people your calling card serves two purposes. First, it will remind them later of who you are and how to contact the transplant center. Second, even if the people who you give the card to do not personally decide to get tested, they may remember your story and speak to 3, 4, or maybe even 20 other people about their meeting with you. One of these people may step up and get tested. This is how social networking can help you reach a vast audience and can help you find a living donor.
Figure 1. Example of a kidney kampaign calling card. This is the card used by Harvey Mysel, the founder of Living Kidney Donors Network when he discovered he needed a transplant in 2012
Give away your calling cards
You and your matchmaker (topic of a future blog post) should give away your calling cards freely. Hand them out to all your friends, family, and acquaintances, even to strangers. And don’t just give them one card. Offer several and ask the recipients to help spread your story and to give away the cards to others.
Calling cards are useful beyond face-to-face encounters. When you and your matchmaker send cards and letters (see Nov 2011 blog post), remember to include several calling cards in the envelope.
When you post a notice on a message board (topic of a future blog post), remember to include a pocket to hold a stack of calling cards.
When you and your matchmaker host an event (topic of a future blog post), remember to hand out calling cards to all the participants.
Design a calling card
A calling card is different from a business card. A business card just presents the facts, your name, company, and contact information. A Kidney Kampaign calling card provides contact information, but it must also provide a compelling story to get the person receiving it to take some action.
There are three very good sets of instructions on creating a calling cards to find a kidney donor. The first is by the Living Kidney Donors Network. The other two resources are provided by Living Kidney Donor Search and the Living Kidney Donor Search tools and tips. You should read the excellent advice given on all three websites.
A basic business card is 2” x 3-1/2”, printed one-side, horizontal (landscape) orientation, in black and white (Fig 2). But to make your card stand out, consider the following options:
- Vertical (portrait) orientation
- Four-color printing, especially good for photographs
- Printed two-sides, also called duplex printing, almost required to fit all the information needed
- Reverse type, that is, white lettering on a dark background (should be limited to large bold text, like the headline)
- Picture or graphic that runs off the edge of the card, also called a bleed
- Folded card, shaped like a tent, helpful if you have a longer story to tell and will also make you card stand out from other cards
Figure 2. Examples of the options described above
A kidney donor calling card is quite different from a business card. A business card is passive and just provides basic information for the recipient of the card to contact you. Your calling card is more like an advertisement. Like an advertisement, it should contain the following five items:
- Photograph or illustration
- Message to potential donors
- Your contact information
- Logo (optional)
Each of these items is described in detail below. When designing your business card, start with pencil and paper and rough out the design before going to the computer to create the final design that will be printed.
The first two things a person will see on your calling card are the headline and the photograph. If you don’t have a photograph on your card, then you will definitely need a headline. The headline should be direct and no more than one sentence long. Some ideas are:
- Help me fight chronic kidney disease
- Help me find a kidney donor
- Become a living kidney donor
- You can give the gift of life
- Save a life, start with a simple test
Photograph or illustration
A large photograph or illustration is optional, but it is highly recommended that you include one. A picture will draw the attention of any person who looks at your calling card for the first time. To be effective at creating a positive connection, the photograph must be of high quality. Don’t skimp. Don’t try to take the picture yourself. Ask your matchmaker or a camera-savvy friend for help.
To make the best first impression, the picture should be of high technical quality. You often cannot fix a bad picture using a photo editing tool like Photoshop. Instead, start with a good shot. This means the picture should be:
- In focus (to avoid fuzzy image)
- Taken with a tripod or steady hand (to avoid shaky or blurred image)
- Well lit (to avoid grainy background or red-eye)
- Taken in daylight (to avoid blue fluorescent cast or orange tungsten cast)
- Taken with the background chosen with care and cropped to eliminate extraneous items in the background
Some recommended subjects that will make the photograph compelling are listed below.
- A close up of you smiling (a natural smile, not a forced one)
- You with other members of your family who cannot be donors (you will need to explain why they cannot be donors in the text of the calling card)
- You with pets
- You with props that show you participating in a favorite hobby or family activity
Message to potential donors
Your message to potential donors should include an appeal that explains why you want them to donate. It should also include instructions on how to get started as a donor. The message has to be short. You can only fit about 100 words on the front and back of a standard business card.
An oversized card can have more words, but I actually recommend having fewer words on the card and instead include a link to your website for people who want more details. Some ideas on what to include are:
- A short biography and explanation of why you need a kidney transplant
- How your family is affected by your condition
- Medical benefits to you of living donor transplant (compared to lifestyle when undergoing dialysis therapy)
- Who can donate, must be between XX to XX in age (ask transplant center for its range), no uncontrolled hypertension, diabetes, or kidney disease, overall good health
- How to learn more about the costs and risks of becoming a living donor (link to website for details)
- Call for volunteers to get a simple blood test to start the process
- Contact info for the living donor transplant coordinator, or the independent living donor advocate, depending on the process at your transplant hospital
- Encourage them to spread the word about your need to others
with you the latest Be sure to inform the transplant coordinator and independent living donor advocate of your plans to publicize your donor search.
An example of a biography is shown below:
Hello, my name is John Smith. I have kidney disease and I’m in need of a kidney transplant. The wait for a deceased donor kidney can be more than 5 years. To avoid this wait, I am actively pursuing a living kidney transplant. A kidney from a living donor lasts about twice as long as one from a deceased donor.
Kidney donors need to be healthy, no high blood pressure or diabetic. A blood test will determine whether additional tests will be done to see if you are a suitable donor. To schedule a test contact Janet Jones, my transplant coordinator at the New York Transplant Hospital: firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-456-7890.
Your contact information
The following information should be included on the front of your calling card:
- Phone number (optional, but recommended)
- Email address
- Web address of your donor search website or Facebook page
If you are promoting organ donation in general. you may want to include the Donate Life America logo. Similarly, if you are promoting the Living Kidney Donors Network program, you may want to include the LKDN logo.
Where to buy calling cards
There are hundreds of choices for getting your calling cards printed. Any small print shop should be capable of showing you paper, ink, and other options for a professional looking card. If you prefer buying on the web, LKDN has created a portfolio of calling cards on the FedEx Office website (formerly Kinko’s). To use the portfolio and purchase cards from FedEx Office:
- In a web browser, navigate to http://www.fedex.com/us/office/designprint/index.html
- Click My Account (on left)
- Type E-mail = info@LKDN.org and Password = businesscard and click Sign In
- Click View My Portfolio (in Design Center box)
A box of 250 business cards in color, printed two-sided will cost about $50 plus tax and shipping. If you need help, call FedEx Office customer service 1-888-889-7121.
If you want to design your cards from scratch and save money too, Living Kidney Donor Search (LKDS) recommends using Zazzle. The site guides you through the design steps. A pack of 100 cards printed 2-sided will cost about $25. To save even more, LKDS says discount codes for Zazzle are often available on RetailMeNot.
Another popular source for business cards is CafePress. They have a large number of designs available. However, they don’t support 2-sided printing or custom color printing.
Three more examples of kidney donor search calling cards are shown below.
Figure 3. Kidney Kampaign calling card for Amando Melgar, III. From LKDN portfolio on FedEx Office website
Figure 4 and 5. Examples of covers for tent fold cards based on a t-shirt design sold by Zazzle (left) and a poster sold by CafePress (right). Designs are copyrighted
Thanks to Harvey Mysel of Living Kidney Donors Network for providing me with example cards that I use in my patient counseling. Additional thanks to Suzanne Kloss of Living Kidney Donor Search for providing additional tips on designing and using calling cards.
For more ideas on finding a donor, see my Kidney patient guide.