Thursday, March 22, 2007

NGDT's "Give a Toss" Sperm Donor Campaign

no. 342

The UK National Gamete Donor Trust has embarked on what is probably their most ambitious and most controversial campaign to recruit new sperm donors. The campaign titled "Give a Toss" linked here and above and as evidenced by the image quite racy and has been designed to obviously attract attention in markets they have not been able to reach previously with their message.

According to all reports the switch disallowing donor anonymity in the UK resulted in a severe drop in men donating sperm for use by couples and individuals looking to conceive children. This new campaign by the NGDT is another attempt to reverse that trend. The goal obviously using humor and sex is to bring men to the door and then to seriously discuss what it means to be a donor and the possibilities that their donations can provide couples.

As soon as I saw a link to the campaign site in Richard's blog I e-mailed Laura Witjens of the NGDT with my reactions and in her replies she herself noted that the campaign has stirred things up and already resulted in 46 registrations which may not translate into 46 donors but it represents a start. Laura indicated that 46 may seem a small number but that number is usually their best count for 2 to 3 weeks as compared to the much shorter period that this campaign has been active.

BioNews critiqued the campaign in a recent commentary where they felt that the campaign was tacky and only reinforces the negative image of sperm donation. I would expect that many of the donor conceived persons out there will have similar reactions and be quick to denounce the campaign. I do not believe the campaign was designed with any disrespect to donor conceived persons in any way. It may be interpreted that way and feelings may be hurt but I am sure the idea was solely the most expeditious way to get the message out as loudly as they could that there is a lack of donors.

I, myself, found the site in of itself quite humorous. The game and a few of the scrolling "facts" crossed a few lines farther than I would have dared but I think the NGDT is really trying to fulfill their mandate and believes it is time to take drastic measures to fulfill its goal of helping families affected by the lack of available donors. I believe the fact that they are trying to be inventive, even risking severe criticism, shows that the situation is dire from their perspective.

I wish the "Give a Toss" site had a more direct link to the more serious NGDT website as while the "Give a Toss" site is obviously tongue in cheek it may help to temper the reactions and remind men of why they are being asked to donate. The "facts" link has some info but could use a bit more but perhaps to do would have weakened the "shock" value of the overall concept.

For those individuals and entities that state there are better ways of attracting donors they should volunteer their time and efforts to the NGDT. From what I have seen, this campaign while risky, has been the best effort to date to attract widespread attention. Granted not all of it will be good, there will be some backlash, but as I was recently told when the canoe is already headed towards a waterfall you give its occupants the biggest paddle you can find and hope for the best.


Elle said...

Hi Eric
Thanks for mentioning the campaign on your site. It is indeed controversial but we have given it much thought. We have discussed this with DI parents who were mixed about their views but at least saw the benefits of bringing it to a wider audience.

Thanks for your comment "I wish the "Give a Toss" site had a more direct link to the more serious NGDT website..." It's a good point and it now been changed. If even goes a step further as on every page the reader is reminded that it's about the 'gift of life.'

Unknown said...

Hmmm... Well, you know who I am by now, Eric. This campaign doesn't bother me. I'm well aware that my donor may have viewed my creation as a chance for get off and get a few dollars on the side.

Still, I got what I needed from the transaction. Heheheheheh...

The point of campaigns like this is to open the lines of communication, get an open dialogue of the real need for donor sperm.