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Surpassing 100,000 Cheeks

The goal of our Bone Marrow Donation Challenge was to increase the number of registered bone marrow donors to help save more lives.

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The homepage of, a website prototype built by 100K Cheeks and inspired by OpenIDEO community concepts.
The goal of our Bone Marrow Donation Challenge was to increase the number of registered bone marrow donors to help save more lives. In partnership with the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford and a group of motivated students called 100K Cheeks, our global community learned about the topic, dispelled our own myths and confusion about bone marrow donation, and collaboratively  designed concepts to encourage bone marrow registration and donation around the world.
Our challenge may have ended, but the students’ efforts have continued. In fact, lots of great things have happened since we last checked in with 100K Cheeks – including surpassing their stated goal of 100,000 new cheeks swabbed for the bone marrow registry! So, how did they do it?

Prototyping to Learn

As we’ve learned on OpenIDEO, sometimes a prototype is the best first step toward turning an idea into reality. After our challenge ended, the 100K Cheeks team were so inspired by a few different community concepts – including Sina’s University-Based Open Innovation Awareness Websites build on a DIY Kit and Carola’s Matchpoint – that they decided to build on them to create a concept of their own. Drive in a Box was an early website prototype that helped the team, their partners and other audiences quickly understand what this idea might look like in the real world. It also helped them experience the interaction and flow that new site visitors would go through, which led to even more iterations and refinement.

Partnering to Increase Impact

The journey from idea to impact can be slow-going; one way to make progress is to collaborate with like-minded partners. With this in mind, 100K Cheeks signed up to partner with Do Something, one of the largest social change organizations specifically for teens and young adults. Together they launched a national campaign, called ‘ Give a Spit for Cancer,’ aimed at activating college students to set up registry drives in their community. This campaign not only helped 100K Cheeks spread their message of bone marrow donor registration to an even broader audience, but it led to 20,000 new cheeks swabbed in a three-month period.

Tapping in to Networks

The Drive in a Box prototype and the Do Something partnership couldn’t have come at a better time: just as the students were finishing up their website, a Bay Area entrepreneur named Amit Gupta announced he had acute leukemia and was in need of a South Asian bone marrow donor. With just a few changes, the Drive in a Box site was ready for Amit’s supporters, friends and fans to host their own bone marrow registry drives and spread awareness among their communities. 
In the first 24 hours after publicly launching the Drive in a Box site, over 30 drives had been pledged for Amit. And through the students' continued partnership with DoSomething, ultimately 40,000 people swabbed their cheeks to join the registry. Here's one example of how this partnership and networked campaign all came together:
The best news of all? Amit found a donor and is now recovering after his bone marrow transplant. 
In just over a year the 100K Cheeks campaign actually resulted in 115,198 new registered bone marrow donors. Not ones to rest once their original target was acheived, the students of 100K Cheeks are now busy working on their next campaign for bone marrow awareness and donation. Stay tuned for more updates as we follow their progress. 
Congratulations to 100K Cheeks – and to our entire community for playing your part in helping to reach this important, life-saving milestone!

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