Donate Life California

Improving Organ Donor Registration

The Problem

Donate Life California saves lives by creating opportunities for all Californians to sign up on the official state organ, eye, and tissue donor registry. When Californians get their driver's license or identification card with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) they are asked to register as an organ donor. However, the organ donation message was inconsistent between paper forms, DMV kiosks, and the website. It was difficult to make an informed decision.

Organ donation dot that appears on a California driver license

A California drivers license with a red dot to show organ donation registration.

Nearly 114,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list. Sadly, an average of 22 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. Increasing the number of individuals registered to donate organs and tissues is crucial to solving the organ shortage and saving lives.

The Solution

Using plain talk and background research, Anthro-Tech consolidated three variations of the organ donor message (paper, DMV touch screens, and online) into one consistent message.

This message was tested at the Sacramento DMV with 20 participants, who were given paper copies of the organ donation message to read, annotate, and answer questions about. Using feedback from this in-person test, a second revision was made to the organ donation message.

The second revision was tested with an online survey of over 400 participants who roughly represented California in terms of age, gender, income, and ethnicity. This wider survey reach further informed our understanding of whether the new organ donation message would be clear to Californians.

Using feedback and findings from the survey, we wrote a final organ donation message. The Donate Life California team took the final message to a legislative sponsor to begin the approval process for use at the DMV statewide. They supported their ask of the legislature with a report of findings and recommendations based on feedback from the in-person user study and survey.

After our research and rewrite, a bill (AB 1374) was drafted to implement the suggested changes to the organ donation message. On September 22, 2021, the bill was passed and signed by California Governor, Gavin Newsom after previously receiving approval from the Assembly and the Senate. Donate Life California’s partnership with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is vital to saving lives and educating the community and our team was honored to be a part of this social impact project.

Facts & Figures

  1. 83% of survey participants said the new message was easy to understand
  2. $8 the average projected financial contribution with the updated statement
  3. 50% surveyed said they would want to be an organ and tissue donor
  4. 114,000 individuals are on the national organ transplant waiting list
  5. 1:8 one donor can save eight lives
  6. 17,000,000 Californians are registered to be organ donors
  7. 418 Online survey participants

The Toolkit


  1. Landscape analysis of organ donation messages in the United States
  2. Choice architecture for financial donations
  3. Revision plan that married user needs and organizational goals

Plain talk principles

  1. Edits to the organ donation message
  2. Revisions to the message based on user research

User research

  1. Intercept-study
  2. Paper prototype testing
  3. Survey of Californians online