Blood and stem cell projects

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

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

On this page:

The need for blood donation projects

In the last round of funding the Community Investment Scheme opened up to fund organisations encouraging blood donation. Due to clinical need, any activity focusing on blood donation must engage the Black African and/or Black Caribbean communities. 

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.  

We support projects to engage, educate and recruit new Black blood donors to help us help more sickle cell patients.

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.

Any applications focused on engaging the Black community in blood donation must demonstrate: 

  • how they will work with Black communities to increase understanding about blood donation and the need for Black donors
  • how they will identify a schedule of activity to meet NHS Blood and Transplant’s acquisition needs i.e. group bookings 
  • what level of support they will require from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) to deliver a local campaign
  • knowledge of GDPR requirements when handling personal data.  

Applicants can make use of existing NHSBT materials and videos that show the impact and process of blood donation.  

If projects would like NHSBT support to run any blood collection sessions as part of their work this will need to have NHSBT approval at least 4 months in advance and they will need to operate in accordance with our current regulations and processes.

Why are more Black blood donors needed?

NHSBT has an urgent priority to increase the number of Ro blood donations. This is because:  

  • Demand is increasing between 10-15% each year 
  • Only 2% of regular donors have Ro subtype

Key motivators to give blood

Saving lives is a consistent motivator across all target audiences, however additional motivations for Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities include: 

  • Having a rare blood type or ‘special blood’ 
  • Helping someone from my community   
  • Differences in altruism – people of Black heritage are more likely to give to a relative or community project rather than a stranger. For both blood & organs it’s seen as a ‘shared responsibility’ as part of a caring community.


Real life stories are an effective key motivator, although they require a contemporary twist to be relevant for a younger audience. Check out our recent video series #MyBloodStory for inspiration. 

Barriers to giving blood

The process of donation and personal barriers are consistent across all target audiences e.g. personal belief/faithfear of needles, understanding what is involved, childcare and time issues. 

However additional barriers for people of Black heritage include: 

  • Belief there is enough blood  
  • Lack of awareness around the need for ethnically matched blood and organs 
  • Trust in the state  
  • Information and concerns about low iron levels 
  • A belief that they are not eligible to donate and that their blood is not needed
  • Unaware of where to donate and less likely to attend unfamiliar venues
  • Concerns and suspicions around hygiene / infection / safety / testing / use of data
  • Family influences, dynamics and power structures. 

The need for stem cell donation projects

This year the Community Investment Scheme opened up to projects encouraging stem cell donation, working in partnership with the Anthony Nolan charity.

Ethnicity can play an important part in the treatment of blood cancer. If you have blood cancer, your odds of finding the best lifesaving donor on the Anthony Nolan stem cell register would be 72% if you're White compared to just 37% if you're from a minority ethnic background.

Someone in need of a 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.

People from minority ethnic backgrounds often have rarer tissue types which makes it harder to find matching donors. That means we need to recruit even more donors from minority ethnic backgrounds to ensure we can find matches for those that need it.

About Anthony Nolan

Anthony Nolan is the blood cancer charity that make lifesaving connections between patients in need of a stem cell transplant and incredible strangers ready to donate their stem cells to save a life.

There are over 800,000 people on the Anthony Nolan stem cell register, and we save three people’s lives every day.

Find out more about the Anthony Nolan charity on their website

Applying for funding

The application window for this round of funding is now closed.

Further questions

If you have any further questions about the scheme, please send them to and we will respond as soon as we can.