Blood and stem cell projects

Key information for projects focusing on blood and stem cell donation.

The application window for the latest round of funding is now closed.

The need for blood donation projects

Due to clinical need, any activity focusing on blood donation must engage the Black African and/or Black Caribbean communities. Activity must focus on driving registrations and not facilitating mobile blood donation sessions.

New figures reveal a record 250 donations are now needed every day to treat sickle cell, the fastest growing genetic condition in the UK.

The figure shows a huge increase in demand from hospitals to treat patients. Only 150 donations a day were needed five years ago.

The rising demand is driven by increasing patient numbers, as people live for longer, and greater use of complete blood transfusions – known as red cell exchanges – which improve patient outcomes.

Demand for blood to treat sickle cell has risen by 52% over the past five years and is projected to continue to rise.

Currently, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is only able to provide matched blood for just over half of the hospital requests – other patients need to be treated with O Negative, the universal blood type.

Being treated with O Negative rather than the correct blood type is clinically safe but could mean, long term, patients are more likely to develop antibodies. This puts them at risk of complications and makes it even harder to find blood they can receive.

We are particularly keen to work with trusted voices and messengers who can help us address barriers, normalise blood donation and drive behaviour change within Black African and Black Caribbean communities, with a primary focus to increase Black donor registrations. 

Projects support us by becoming part of our strategic approach to community engagement, mapping and identifying opportunities and using real life stories to show the impact Black blood donors can have.

Areas of focus for blood donation projects

This section details some of the themes applicants need to consider when putting together a project focused on blood donation.

The need for stem cell donation projects

For someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder, a stranger donating stem cells could be their best chance of survival. Ethnicity can play an important part in this process.

Someone in need of a stem cell transplant is most likely to find a match in a person with a similar genetic history. That often means someone from the same ethnic background.

If you have blood cancer and your best treatment option is a stem cell transplant, your odds of finding an unrelated donor match is 72% if you're White, compared to 37% if you're from a minority ethnic background.

This is because people from minority ethnic backgrounds often have rarer tissue types which make it harder to find matching donors. While there are thousands of people from minority ethnic backgrounds on the register today, we must continue to raise awareness and recruit even more donors, to help find more matches for those that need it.

About Anthony Nolan

NHSBT are working in partnership with Anthony Nolan for our Community Grants Programme. Anthony Nolan saves three lives a day of people with blood cancer. They do this by matching stem cell donors to people with blood cancer and blood disorders in desperate need of a lifesaving transplant.

Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer, and by joining the Anthony Nolan register, you could be the lifesaving match for a patient in need.

Right now, there are more than 875,000 people on the Anthony Nolan register, but our goal is to find a perfect matching donor for every patient in need, and there’s much more we need to do to get there.

Joining the Anthony Nolan register is simple – if you’re aged 16-30 and in generally good health then you could be the lifesaving match we need.

Find out more about the Anthony Nolan charity on their website

Applying for funding

The application window for the latest round of funding closed in January 2023.

All applicants have now been notified of funding decisions.

Further questions

If you have any further questions about the programme or previous projects we have funded, please contact and we will respond as soon as we can.