Blood donations are divided into three groups based on who will receive the collected blood. An allogeneic (also called homologous) donation is when a donor gives blood for storage at a blood bank for transfusion to an unknown recipient. A directed or replacement donor donation is when a person, often a family member, donates blood for transfusion to a specific individual. Directed donations are rare in developed countries like Canada but are common in developing countries such as Ghana. The third kind is when a person has blood stored that will be transfused back to the donor at a later date, usually after surgery. This is called an autologous donation. Blood that is used to make medications can be made from allogeneic donations or from donations exclusively used for manufacturing.
The actual process varies according to the laws of the country, and recommendations to donors vary according to the collecting organization. The World Health Organization gives recommendations for blood donation policies, but in developing countries many of these are not followed. For example, the recommended testing requires laboratory facilities, trained staff, and specialized reagents, all of which may not be available or too expensive in developing countries.
An event where donors come to give allogeneic blood is sometimes called a blood drive or a blood donor session. These can occur at a blood bank but they are often set up at a location in the community such as a shopping center, workplace, school, or house of worship.