Canada, a nation of donors

The Trillium Gift of Life Network wants the country to be known for its organ giving, just as much as it is for its politeness.


While the vast majority of Ontarians support donating their organs and tissue to those in need, only 32% of them have registered to do so.

For the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN), the provincial agency responsible for overseeing organ and tissue donation, that’s a big problem  especially since there are 1,500 people in the province currently waiting for a life-saving organ. On average, it estimates that someone dies every three days waiting for a transplant.

Knowing that “the more people who register, the more lives we can save,” the organization has launched a campaign called “DonorNation” aimed at encouraging donor registration, says Karyn Hyjek, director of communications. Its long-term goal is to have 50% of Ontarians on board, so that “we can really claim that we have a culture of donations.”

The campaign launched on Jan. 22 and includes a series of 20- and 30-second spots that capture real Canadians being courteous to one another and encourages them to continue being “nice” in their death by registering to be a donor. The commercials have been rolling out on Facebook and Twitter and will begin appearing as pre-roll ads on YouTube and Google on Feb. 5.

In addition to having a website presence and making posters and brochures available, 12 Service Ontario locations have television screens that will display the videos.

Hyjek says using real interactions between people was meant to make the ads more impactful. The organization figured it could tap into qualities everyone already expects from Canadians – chiefly, being “nice” – because they aligned with those of organ donors.

When developing the creative with Grey Canada, the TGLN looked into the characteristics and demographics of its existing donor base. In addition to being empathetic towards other people’s struggles and feeling connected to their communities, many were also very proud to be Canadian, according to Hyjek.

According to the TGLN, the most common reason people don’t sign up is that they simply don’t think about organ and tissue donation very often. The second reason is that they don’t want to think about it, perhaps because of its association with death.

The “Donor Nation” campaign is meant to overcome that challenge. Hyjek says the goal is to “put it in people’s minds so that when they are asked by Service Ontario, they’re ready to make that decision.”