Sports teams, community festivals and other local and regional properties should put a new category on their prospect list: blood banks.

While not new to sponsorship, the nonprofit organizations are increasingly using the marketing medium to educate consumers about the importance of donating blood and gain tickets that can be used to prompt sign-ups.

And some players are expanding their portfolios.

Mather, Calif.-based BloodSource this year has inked new deals with three properties: The California State Fair, ECHL Stockton Thunder and minor league baseball’s Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.

Another active player: The Blood Alliance. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company sponsors a handful of sports teams and events across its Southeast U.S. footprint including the AFL Jacksonville Sharks; ECHL South Carolina Stingrays, NFL Jacksonville Jaguars and the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.

The Blood Alliance also sponsors three minor league baseball teams: the Charleston RiverDogs, Jacksonville Suns and Savannah Sand Gnats.

On the national level, The American Red Cross uses its four-year-old partnership with the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team to promote blood donations and build relations with corporate donors.

Blood banks largely use sponsorship to accomplish one primary objective: reach new donors.

“Without first-time donors we can’t offset the natural attrition of existing blood donors. We go to sports stadiums and other venues where we can reach large, captive audiences and make it convenient to donate blood,” said Robert Sanchez, the Blood Alliance’s director of donor resources and marketing.

The Blood Alliance—which provides blood to more than 40 hospitals—frequently leverages sports teams and other sponsored events with on-site blood drives. The nonprofit conducts the blood drives several hours prior to a game to make sure that fans don’t have alcohol in their system, said Sanchez.

“People can’t donate if they consume alcohol.”

The Blood Alliance also hosts the annual Gift of Life blood drive at EverBank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Florida Association of Blood Banks last month recognized the event as the most productive blood drive in the state of Florida, said Sanchez.

Blood banks also use sponsorship to access tickets and other inventory that can be used to reward donors. The Blood Alliance leverages the Jaguars with raffles dangling free tickets and autographed helmets, while BloodSource is offering a free ticket to the California State Fair to consumers that participate in one of three blood drives. 

For its part, the American Red Cross gains primary status on Greg Biffle’s Roush Fenway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car at two races each year.  The nonprofit received the sponsorship from 3M Co., an existing team sponsor and a member of the American Red Cross’ Annual Disaster Giving Program.

The nonprofit uses the on-car inventory to promote its brand and specific marketing messages. For example, the Red Cross promoted the #MyTownGives marketing campaign at last weekend’s Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway. The campaign is designed to educate consumers who live in small towns about the importance of donating blood.

The American Red Cross also leverages NASCAR by hosting donors and business partners at races. The nonprofit typically receives tickets and other inventory at a discounted price due to its status as a nonprofit and team sponsor, said Courtney Junkin, the nonprofit’s marketing manager.

Other blood banks look for reduced rights fees due to their nonprofit status.

“The River Cats understand cause marketing and they believe in our mission. As a result, they make it possible to partner together,” said Katherine Elorduy, director of communications with The Blood Source.