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“I’m too busy texting to register a new organ donor.”

As someone who trains people to engage the public, this is the bane of my existence:

We all work so hard–SO HARD–to engage new people with our message of donation and transplantation.  Then, we set up a booth or public place where we need to go out and register donors when a volunteer whips out the cell phone…and on the inside, I feel like this:

Cell phones are the worst. [1] [2]

Using cell phones while working means that we are prioritizing a text or email or blog post over REGISTERING MORE PEOPLE TO SAVE LIVES!

I watched, at many events, both staff members *who were not on call* and volunteers ignore people walking by our fantastic booth, because they zoned out looking at their phones.  You bet I cried like Dawson!

What can you do about cell phones and their campaign against all humanity?

  1. Have a policy: Cell phones are OFF and OFF your person when you volunteer or work with the public to register and educate.  If a staff member or volunteer is on call, they should be able to handle their phones appropriately. Otherwise, OFF and OFF your person.
  2. Have a reminder: Put a “no cell phone” sign in your booth bins to remind people.  Laminate it and put it in a very obvious place. (I’ve attached a sample image for you below!)
  3. Ask staff and volunteers to be accountable to each other: Is someone you are working with on their phone a lot? With kindness and compassion, ask them: “When you’re on your phone, I notice that we’re missing a lot of people to register.  Is everything okay? Do you need a break do deal with something?”*
  4. Remind, remind, remind: Put a reminder of your cell phone policy on your Facebook page and/or newsletter at least twice per year.

Together, we can minimize cell phone interruptions and register more people to save lives as organ, eye, and tissue donors!

*If someone replies with: “I can multi-task! I can check Facebook and talk to people about transplantation!”, shoot them a link to this study (short version: if you think you can multi-task, especially while on the phone, you’re probably really, really wrong).