DMV Ambassadors: Building Relationships to Save Lives

Even before Donate Life North Carolina became an organization, we knew it was critical for us to partner with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), not only because the state agency had historically had the organ donation question as part of its system for years, but also because we recognized that examiners play a role each and every day in saving lives.

Each year, DMV Examiners engage with 800,000 - 1,000,000+ North Carolinians in need of permits, ID cards, and driver's licenses. One of the many questions asked during these exchanges is: "Would you like to register to be an organ donor?" Currently, just over half of North Carolina residents say "Yes!" to that question.

Our DMV Ambassadors are volunteers who have "adopted" an office (or multiple offices) near their homes to make quarterly visits. During these visits, Ambassadors bring materials such as newsletters, answer questions examiners may have been asked by customers, provide insight into the data on how many people are signing up at each office, brainstorm ideas on how to make a strong impact in the community before customers come in to answer the donation question, and share our unyielding appreciation for them asking the question each and every time. We recognize that we along with partners, such as LifeShare Of The Carolinas, Carolina Donor Services, and The North Carolina Eye Bank, must provide the appropriate education and information in communities so customers can make informed decisions. At the same time, we know that if an examiner does NOT ask the organ donation question, the likelihood of a customer registering, even if she/he supports donation, is nil.

Most of our ambassadors have been touched by donation personally. Over 2/3 are transplant recipients. About 1/6 are members of a donor family. We also have two living donors, one waiting list candidate, over 15 caregivers, and 10 donation professionals who give their time each quarter (and sometimes more often!) to spend time building strong, personal relationships with the fabulous folks who work in our state DMV offices.

In this current round of DMV Ambassador trainings, we are sharing with our volunteers what our goals are for the program (i.e. why are we doing this?), how we can measure the goals, and how we are doing. The great news: the general public and DMV examiners continue to feel overwhelmingly positive about organ donation. More myths and misconceptions are being debunked thanks to the education Examiners provide as well as our community outreach efforts. The displays within DMVs remind customers that they will be asked a question that day regarding saving lives, and the customers are aware of such visuals so there are no surprises (when humans are surprised, we don't often like saying yes!).

We cannot thank our DMV Ambassadors enough for creating such incredible relationships with the more than 550 examiners across North Carolina. Their dedication of time, energy, and love is a gift to us as an organization, and our state will forever be better for it!