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Incentivizing blood donation

A social platform that encourages you to save lives through the gift of blood.

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih
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My country, the Maldives has the highest prevalence of Thalassaemia in the world. Almost one in five Maldivians are thalassaemia carriers.

One out of every 120 newborns is born with Thalassaemia. 85% of these children will not survive till the age of five unless they receive regular blood transfusions.

The Maldives has a population of roughly 400,000. The currently available pool of donors is numerically low, and yet there is a statistically higher demand for blood donors.

In addition to having to meet this demand, the local blood banks are under constant stress from blood donation needs - medical surgeries, trauma care and other emergencies.

However, the Maldives has an extraordinarily high penetration of cell-phone and data connectivity (>190%) throughout all regions of the country, and most people own modern smartphones.

The Maldives also has a young population with strong online social presence.

My idea is to seize this opportunity, and provide an M-Health app to incentivize the act of blood donation.

Basic Features

  • The app would help donors maintain blood donation history, and easily view their donation schedule    
  • Push notifications and SMS alerts for donor opportunities or emergency situations
  • Find nearby donation centres
  • Set goals and share updates with friends on social media

Redeemable points & social badges

The point system

The app further incentivizes regular donation by including motivational factors such as badges that can be unlocked.

Sponsored rewards from strategic partners (such as corporate CSR programmes) could encourage further participation. These rewards could potentially range from a month of free Netflix subscription, retail store gift cards, additional phone credit or airline miles.

The application would maintain a secure, up-to-date donor database. The data would be made accessible to medical institutions and local blood banks, with open interfaces to integrate with existing healthcare software systems.

2. How would you describe the stage of development of your idea?

  • Conceptual Development

4. How will your idea make an impact and in what way?

The Maldives has an extraordinarily high penetration of cell-phone and data connectivity (>190%) throughout all regions of the country, and most people own modern smartphones. Reference: The Maldives also has a young population with strong online social presence.

5. Tell us about the scalability of your idea to other communities.

The app is conceived as an open source project with permissive licensing schemes. This would allow developers across the globe to customize and scale the platform to their unique local profile, languages and geographies.

6. How will winning the Euro 20,000 seed funding move your idea forward?

The seed funds would cover initial development costs, and cost of operations for 12 months. In the initial phase, I want to maximize sign-ups of potential donors by investing in marketing through broadcast and social media - which, in the Maldives, would would broadly cover the target demographics. The investment would help achieve a critical mass of users in a span of 12 months.


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Thanks for sharing this article. Donating the blood is good idea and it can save many peoples life. Donatong blood is also good for health. When you donate blood, your body replaces the blood volume within 48 hours of donation, and all of the red blood cells you lose during donation are completely replaced within four to eight weeks. This process of replenishment can help your body stay healthy and work more efficiently and productively.
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This is really a great initiative. Donating the blood save life. I've donated blood in the past, but with this information i would like to donate on regular basis. Best of luck, our support is with you.

Photo of Robin Smith

This is a great initiative. I want congrats for developing this idea. Donating the blood is good idea and it can save many peoples life.There is a clear purpose for this platform and that makes it completely different from all others. I love your idea! It's practical and might easily scale up over the world! I look forward to the app and wish you all the success.

Photo of Alex

This is a great initiative. I think by this way the purpose of a social media can be fulfilled. There is a clear purpose for this platform and that makes it completely different from all others.

Photo of Judy Le

I'm wondering what the barriers to blood donations are currently (e.g. stigma associated with blood donation, lack of awareness or education about blood donations, access to medical facilities etc.) and whether you've done research in this area to understand how you may address these issues. In Australia, stringent eligibility criteria deems many people ineligible to donate. There are also many campaigns to raise awareness and encourage donations but there always seems to be a shortage. I think this would need to be address before the APP would even be applicable.

Photo of Agaba Peter

I wish I had such an idea when I lost my friend because of blood lack

Photo of Apurva Mahendra

Hi Shuraih,

Congrats on developing this idea. In order to make this App or platform more powerful, I wanted to share my feedback:
1. It would be a better idea if you utilise existing platforms to push adoption of blood donation. This simply because in order to increase penetration of this App which means another App on a smart phone. There are many statistics that show users use only 4-5 Apps on their phone on a regular basis. If you integrate with another popular platform, marketing this App won't be a problem.
2. Remember that usage of such Apps grows only with network effect - Someone uses it so I use it like WhatsApp. You will get champions of users to use this app when they see others doing it. If you plan to retain this as an exclusive app, then allow people to do other useful things like provide ICE cards to friends, medical tips for blood sugar patients and alike. You need to create more useful things that it becomes a one Stop shop app. Even biggies like Uber are adding additional features.
thats all!

Photo of Whyte Developers


Photo of Nash Naazim

Your initiative is admirable. I believe that including blood donor selection criteria is very crucial for your app. best of luck, our support is with you.

Photo of An

I love your idea! It's practical and might easily scale up over the world! I've just had a few comments that might improve your brilliant ideas. Firstly, you can add more functions such as weight and height calculation or some basic information of blood/blood donation. The donors will know whether they are able to donate blood or not or how much blood they can donate. Secondly, notifications for all users in emergency cases are necessary. For example, if a disaster happens, a lot of blood will be needed and users should be informed about that. Thirdly, the "reward" maybe blood itself. In my country, blood donors are given a certificate. When they or their families need blood, they may show this certificate to get some blood. Your app will become a blood "bank" account helping both blood donors and health care providers control the blood donation/receiver more easily. Last but not least, you perhaps should think how to make users use the app more frequently. It takes around 3 months after each blood donation. It's quite a long time and users may forget your app. I suggest that more information such as blood news, blood information; regular notifications or regular campaigns should be used to make users use the app more frequently. I hope my comments can help you develop the app better. Again, I love your idea!

Photo of Saif Ali

Hi An I completely agree to your points, deciding if the user is healthy and able to donate should be the app's first job. And most probably should show a numerical representation as how many liters can the user donate keeping in note the user's health/physical attributes. Secondly when a disaster happens, your app or should I say platform launch a SMS campaign, as the cellular networks might be damaged or overloaded so to avoid conjunction send text messages to that disaster location and it's vicinity users, you should ask your users where do they live when they sign up so you can compile a geographical depth/concentration map so you can query it later to produce a list of numbers to ping for blood donation campaign. Lastly as she said and we know it normally takes 3 months for a donor to regain blood donation ability, till then I won't be keeping this app with me anymore, so your point of contact or method of re-initiation should be SMS, use these to call them back on the portal or have weekly or bi-weekly or even monthly meetups or setup campus ambassadors to increase/augment user retention metrics.

Hope I helped.
All the best.

Photo of An

Hi Saif Ali , I also totally agree with your comments! The ideas of the app is great but how to make users use it frequently or "addicted" to it is quite difficult. Campaigns with famous stars as ambassadors, touching stories or gifts are indeed necessary.

Photo of Peizhi Lee

Great idea Mohamed Shuraih ! Simple idea with a pressing need, great potential! Saif Ali and An i completely agree with you guys! As blood donation is not something that a donor does on a regular basis, he may only check this app up to 4 times a year. This idea certainly needs to do a lot more to retain donors but it may lose its primary focus. How about integrating this idea as an additional feature on existing 'health' apps that comes with the phone. For example, the iOS Health app on iPhones and Apple watches

The iOS Health app can probably benefit from the 'redeemable points and social badges' too!

Photo of Saif Ali

Hi Peizhi Lee I agree with you as well, almost every major smartphone vendor now has some dedicated health app, like Samsung for instance. He can also try Gamification of the whole blood donation process.

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Thank you An  ! To make the donor database more useful, the signup process for donors would include collection of vital statistics such as weight and height.

Android and iOS platforms both allow push notifications; in case of emergencies it might even be possible (depending on whether the user has chosen to enable location services) to alert potential donors based on their location - and guide them to their nearest collection centers.

During massive emergencies, our data would prove invaluable during disaster relief operations (the platform has open interfaces that can be made available to trusted parties, such as disaster relief agencies)

Apart from simply donating blood, the donors are also ambassadors of the platform, and crucial volunteers in helping expand the community. The social aspects of the platform, with point rewards and merit badges, are meant to encourage participation. Sharing urgent requests to social media, and making app referrals to friends and family, etc. are all designed to keep the donors actively engaged. Simple rewards such as a month of Netflix subscription, phone credit, or a data add-on, arranged in conjunction with partners such as telecom carriers under their CSR programs, are a token of appreciation and an added incentive for continued participation.

Your comments are most welcome, and definitely helpful!

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Hi Saif Ali  , thanks, your comments are very welcome!

The donor data does aim to capture the height/weight, contact details, and donation history.

Once we have this data, it is simply a matter of allowing appropriate access - to donors, recipients, blood banks and collection centres - and in case of emergencies, to disaster relief agencies.

SMS is certainly a neat idea. At this stage, I wish to maintain a strong focus on the app's core functionality of connecting users, and ensuring simplicity of use in the common usage scenarios.

But certainly, once the data is collected and made available, the option certainly exists to use SMS or any other available communication tool to reach out to donors!

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Hi Peizhi Lee , Saif Ali ,

That sounds quite interesting. I imagine it is possible to ease the donor signup process by automatically fetching basic stats (health/weight/etc) from the Health Apps.

Could you please elaborate more on how you envisage the integration of blood donation with Samsung/Apple health apps? Appreciate your comments! :)

Photo of An

Hi all! Our discussion seems to be very interesting! I used to use Google Fit, S health (the health app of Samsung) and now, use Xiaomi app. The three above apps mainly record users' activities (distance, burnt calories and even sleeping, etc.) but users have to input their height, weight, the quantity of water/caffeine they drink, calories. The app of Xiaomi can sync data of other apps. Users' blood donation and more broadly, blood information are important to assess their health. So if their blood information can be synced with other apps, such as ones of Samsung and Apple, it will be much better! For example, when you are going to donate blood, the app, if being synced with S health, can alarm you to drink less caffeine, wine or eat less fat (I guess so. I'm not an expert on blood!) Besides this, honestly, Samsung and Apple are so popular. If you can cooperate with the giants (or at least, your blood donation app can be synced with their apps), I think you can attract more users! Above are my ideas and I'm eager to listen and learn more from you!

Photo of An

Hi Mohamed Shuraih , I add a new comment: the app is now designed for individuals. It will be perhaps better if it has some beneficial information for health managers such as blood type, GPS...of users. For example, if a disaster happens, managers will have prompt solutions if they know how many people who are able to donate blood, with particular blood type, live near the needed place. I hope this helps!

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Hello An , thank you for active participation in this thread! 
You are right! A centralized database of potential donors and donor information would be invaluable in times of disaster and emergencies.

As part of the initial registrations, I intend to reach out to donors through information available in existing donor databases at partner organizations such as the Thalassaemia Society and ICRC.

In addition, the app will also help new users to sign up as donors - and they can choose to add their information to these existing donor databases.

As mentioned in my concept note, the data is intended to be made accessible to medical institutions and local blood banks via open interfaces, to maximize the social benefit. After all, this is a community effort!

Photo of An

Hi! Thanks for your very detail answer! I've learnt a lot from sharing with you! I hope one day, I can use your app in my country and I can build something great like you. Wish you all the best!

Photo of Kim White

(Crazy) Idea: Get tourists to donate blood?!

Photo of Peizhi Lee

Great starting point! Mohamed Shuraih I like the 'redeemable points' and 'social badges'. I am also wondering if there are other ways to incentivize consumers. From my perspective, there are reasons why some donors do not make a donation trip. For example, the inconvenience of it.

To be a suitable donor, one has to
- Be between 16 and 60 years old
- Weigh at least 45 kg
- Have a haemoglobin level of at least 12.5 g/dl
- Generally be in good health
- Not have had any symptoms of infection for at least 1 week e.g. sore throat, cough, runny nose, diarrhea
- Not have had a fever in the last 3 weeks
- Not experience heavy menstrual flow or cramp

Here's what a consumer journey looks like:
1. Find a blood donation center.
2. Take time off to go to the blood center.
3. Make sure they eat a healthy meal and drink 16oz of water before donation.
4. Take basic health tests to access donor suitability. This includes medical screening of blood pressure, pulse and body temperature as well as a blood test to check blood hemoglobin level.
5. If suitable, donate a pint of blood (8-10 min)
6. Drink 8 oz of water after donation within the next 24 hours.
7. Avoid alcohol. No heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for the day.

While the actual donation of a pint of whole blood unit takes eight to 10 minutes, the entire blood donation process takes around 1hr 15min.

From this consumer journey, I see a couple of deterrence:
a. Not an activity for the busy as the entire process takes at least 1 hr!
b. Not for people who likes fast-food chains or alcohol. Donors have to make a conscious decision to eat healthy before donation and avoid alcohol and exercising after donating.

How about reduce the inconveniences of a blood donor to encourage blood donation?
It seems like there are a lot of water activities in Maldives, such as Kayaking and Kitesurfing. Inevitably, people who participate in water activities get cuts, lose some blood and need a band aid. There is a high chance that water sports lovers are healthy and suitable blood donors, could we turn them into blood donors? Droga 5 invented adhesive bandages to save lives and spur marrow-donor registrations ( Likewise, can we create a bandaid that tests for blood hemoglobin and alcohol in the blood. If the blood sample is suitable, a message that encourages them to become a blood donor appears.

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Hi Peizhi Lee ,

Fascinating. I had never before heard of such band-aids. Sounds very useful.

Photo of Dwiti Bisaria

Kudos on the idea and concept Mohamed Shuraih ...I love the detailed input and deeper understanding of the user joruney Peizhi Lee . Being informed about such insights is incredibly important. Wishing you the best! 

Photo of Jen Lehotsky

The beginning information definitely sparked empathy in me for all those children. I've donated blood in the past, but with this information my motivated to donate on regular basis and that is the point of the app. Excellent idea. Sustaining good things is difficult. What is the geographical scope of your audience? Can you make it global? Best of luck to you.

Photo of Ben Toscher


This is a practical solution to a real problem. My questions:

1. The communication material above is informative, but too graphical. It's not human enough. From my perspective, your story is about Maldiveans helping Maldiveans. Have you thought about telling the stories of those Maldiveans that need blood transfusions, through social media, when you have launched and are trying to get sign ups? Compelling copy and real, human pictures of humans that need help could be powerful. Why do you assume that the incentive of a Netflix subscription or retail gift card will be more enticing than the satisfaction of knowing you've helped another human being, especially in a community of this size?

Keep creating, and best wishes,


Photo of Valerie Aguiar

This is a neat idea! I'd encourage you to consider a few points:
- What are the barriers stopping people from donating currently (e.g. Do they think it's painful? Do they lack awareness of the need?) How will your app remove these barriers?
- Can you integrate with existing platforms (e.g. Facebook, Snapchat)? In my experience, people are unlikely to download an app unless they see a lot of value in it. If they currently don't donate, what will you do to get them to (1) donate blood, (2) download the app.
- Create value for the consumer! I think providing people with prizes is great! Maybe you can take it a step further and provide a free blood test with every donation to screen for other health issues (if that's a normally expensive service in your country).
- Build legitimacy through partnerships. I agree with @Jay on this one - try partnering with the Maldivian Blood Services.
- Make donating blood fun or trendy! Maybe incentivize donations by raffling prizes to people who take a selfie and share on Instagram while donating blood? Prize for referring a friend?

Best of luck!

Photo of Jay

Great idea, I can see this can be easily scale up to developed countries where they face the same issues you mentioned in Maldives.
Not an expert on blood donation process but I would also seek out hospitals and blood banks for partnerships. In addition to seeding funding, they can organize events like blood drive if enough people demonstrate interest in one area instead of having people go to them to donate blood.

Photo of Muju Naeem

Congratulations on a great idea and receiving the seed funding. I look forward to the app and wish you all the success. ��

Photo of Adam Gall

Mohamed Shuraih Who would be the first 100 people to download the app and how would you incentivize them to participate? Would it be to existing blood donors or new constituents? Are iOS or Android users more likely to donate? :P

Photo of Saif Ali

@Adam Gall Nice point Adam. Mohamed Shuraih I recommend you look into what Adam has to say, I agree with him. I suggest you do a little survey, in your neighborhood or college/university/work to gather about a 100 donors, and then start a marketing campaign i.e. shoot a video of those donors, create a cause, market that on SNS and setup a launch event. Once you setup a launch event, look for local hospitals or companies to sponsor that event for you.

Great idea though! Love it. Execute it properly!
All the best!

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Hi Adam Gall ,

Excellent question! This would absolutely be one of the most crucial steps towards ensuring sustainability of the app, as the first 100 people would be instrumental in providing early feedback, spreading the word, and creating a community of donors.

As I mentioned in my concept note, this is one of the goals in the initial phase - to maximize sign-ups of potential donors by investing in marketing through broadcast and social media - which, in the Maldives, would would broadly cover the target demographics.

It would also be quite effective to partner with organizations like the Maldives Thalassaemia Society and the ICRC who already have a database of existing donors, and get them onboard the app. (I anticipate that similar partnerships can be arranged with existing local community organizations in other countries and communities as well in the initial phases)

It remains to be seen whether Android or iOS users would be the most generous - but perhaps we could track this through the app as well, haha!

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Saif Ali 

While I do intend to allocate a reasonable budget towards early-stage marketing and establishing partnerships with key corporate partners to boost sign ups, I also intend to work with agencies with existing donor databases to reach the goal of first 100 donors in a more efficient manner.

Photo of James Massaquoi

Good job this is a great idea. The most important part of this app is it's potential to change the culture in your country and others like it. Making it a social norm for people donate blood is in my opinion what will have the biggest impact. I would make sure to target schools & teens, of the proper age, while also teaching courses or giving talks in the local schools. Educating the youth is the fastest way to change a country's mindset and make the most change. Goodluck

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Hi James Massaquoi 

I agree with your opinion. The idea is to provide a powerful technological tool to enable this change of culture, and make blood donation a social norm.

While younger teenagers might not be eligible to donate blood themselves, educating them early on would certainly lay the foundation for a future where the culture of blood donation is strongly ingrained in society.

The app is merely a tool, the real solution is to empower the young, enabling change of mindsets and behaviour.

Photo of Aden Date

Hi Mohamed,

This looks like a fabulous idea. I live in Tanzania, and here blood-giving is primarily done only under emergency circumstances when a family member actually needs it. Not much luck if people in your family don't share your type or you need blood urgently.

Your app mostly seems to incentivise potential donors, but what about blood banks and hospitals? Are there any barriers (self-imposed or otherwise) they face in accepting and receiving donations? My local experience has been that bureaucratic issues and a lack of familiarity with blood donation can make the process laborious. It's possible that this isn't a big problem in the Maldives, but I thought I'd ask!

All the best with your idea.


Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Hi Aden Date , thank you for sharing.

I am glad you asked! Bureaucratic issues are a challenge in the Maldives too.

We have the world’s highest prevalence of Thalassaemia - and blood banks are constantly in need of donations. In my observation, the primary challenge is poor coordination and the lack of incentive to donate. In case of emergencies, families often have to seek out donors themselves - and this is almost always a very stressful exercise. I strongly believe that a centralized database and this app will help remedy this situation.

Lack of familiarity with blood donation is a challenge that I feel can be overcome in a small community like the Maldives, by seeding a community of active donors who feel invested in spreading the message.

Photo of Annika

Hi Mohamed! I think your idea is really good.
Have you thought about rewarding the donors with a story or factual data? It would be interesting for the users of this app to see how many people joined forces in donating blood and therefore contributed in X amount of blood donated and helped X amount of people. This can also be a way of keeping the users on the app, by sending information on the amount of people that have donated. It can potentially create a sense of collective responsibility and action.

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Hi Annika , thank you so much.

I agree. Personal stories from those who benefit from life-saving donations could indeed be a very powerful motivator.

Descriptive anecdotes, and real stories could definitely be featured content - as these reveal the true impact of the individual acts of donations.

Public testimonials and personal thank you notes might also be an incentive for the donors, as well as a way for recipients to express their appreciation or gratitude.

Real time metrics and informative numbers can be presented using data from collection centers and blood banks. These numbers / graphs would undoubtedly inspire a sense of community and collective responsibility.

Photo of Gabriel Giguère

Great idea ! I would truly enjoy seeing data and/graph about real-time blood supply, to see the real need and the global objective. It could become a collective goal to reach a certain amount of blood.

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Thank you Gabriel Giguère !

Anonymized data collection is already planned. Once we have access to historical data we can start highlighting trends (of supply / demand) and proactively adjust donation goals that need to be reached. And of course, the aim is to have all of this data properly anonymized and available to the public on demand and in real time.

Photo of Mike Sutliff

I love the idea of a shared goal Gabriel Giguère - and real time progress, it is so much more than 'data available on demand' and could truly motivate participation, if promoted in the right way, which is a key to the success of this great idea!

Photo of Gabriel Giguère

@Mohamed Shuraih : I'm glad I can help, to be more precise, It would be fun to gamify the process and make it a collective goal, wish you the best for your good work Mohamed !@Mike Sutliff : glad to hear that we have a common vision, I'm always asking to myself : How much do they have right now of blood supply ? I can't see the need so I go whenever I want, but that's surely not enough !

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Hi Gabriel Giguère ,

‘A collective goal’ sounds like an excellent idea. This app could actually be a great way to have a common goal ‘Let’s achieve X goal together by Y date’ - and incentivize blood donation drives.

I do foresee that this process would require collaboration with local blood banks, so that anonymized data is available to track donations both via and outside the app. I am confident that blood banks would be happy to engage in something like this.

Photo of Tina Reynolds

What are some of the challenges that people face when they go to donate blood?

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Hi Tina Reynolds  , great question!

Before you even volunteer to donate blood, there is a significant challenge in identifying those in need of blood urgently - as this information is not readily accessible.

It is also difficult for those in need of blood to arrange for donors on short notice, as the messages on social media, etc. are dispersed, and also different people have different levels of reach on these platforms.

It is difficult to coordinate between the donors, the recipients and the blood bank. Sometimes there is missing or outdated information (‘is this request for blood on twitter from seven hours ago still valid?’, etc)

Donors have to maintain their own donation history. This is cumbersome for most people.

First time donors may also not be familiar with the procedure - and thus, for instance, may turn up at the blood bank without adequate preparation (they might not be in good health, or have had a meal, etc.)

This app seeks to address all of the above issues, first by centralizing the requests, and also by acting as a conduit between donors and recipients, tracking donation history, and being a resource for information about blood donation.

Photo of Samu Puskás

Perfect idea! Well thought out, yet simple, seems to be able to work in every aspect of it.
In Hungary, whenever you donate blood and leave your phone number, they send you an SMS when the bank your blood had been transferred to uses the donation. It's really nice to receive an SMS that says you have just saved a life:) Things like that can be highly encouraging to keep up the donation.
Also, there's a limit (3-4 month if I know it well) while you can't donate in order to maintain your healthy blood level. If the app for example accesses the calendar on the phone and marks the next day you can donate again, users won't forget about it. As I for one would repeat my donation if I was informed of my expiry day, that could be helpful for those who have the will but forget about it in that period of time.
Once again, great, great job and really good idea!
I'm glad that I've found it.
Keep up the good work:)

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Thank you, Samu Puskás ! Yes, indeed it is important to keep donors motivated and informed. Knowing that you have helped save a life is definitely the biggest reward! In addition, this idea also explores other ways to keep users engaged. We're also looking into ways how we can encourage existing donors to bring onboard others as well, with simple, nominal incentives - similar to just how regular social networking works!

Photo of Stefan Tod

A very interesting idea ,with a great deal of potential :)

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Thank you Stefan Tod ! I'm glad you like it!

Photo of Joanna Spoth

Love seeing all the collaboration on your idea, Mohamed Shuraih ! Keep up the great work :)

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Thank you Joanna Spoth !

I'm glad to see the response has been positive. I hope to integrate the suggestions I've received and build upon the initial idea.

Photo of Aishath Gaina

Very nice idea :)

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Thanks a lot Aishath Gaina !

Photo of Ahmad Salim

Nice. The history maintaining part is good. Also would be nice to send a notification to the donor after the 3 month duration saying , "You are ready to donate again".

Photo of Mohamed Shuraih

Thank you Ahmad Salim ! I appreciate the input.

Push notifications are planned features for the initial release. And you're right, reminders could do wonders with getting repeat donors!