This article is related to the recently initiated discussion on mechanisms of charitable giving and the lack of research on the mix of those mechanisms. On the basis of a comprehensive and interdisciplinary literature review in the area of blood donation management (1970–2010), the authors found that pure altruism, respectively altruistic values, is very often seen as the most important mechanism for giving blood the first time and, moreover, for building blood donor loyalty. This study argues that more knowledge on the mix of mechanisms in blood giving is needed. Therefore, this research examined the impact of altruistic values and the donors' satisfaction with the treatment on blood donor loyalty. Using survey data of the German Red Cross (N = 2149), the authors found that the impact of satisfaction with the treatment on blood donor loyalty is higher compared with altruistic values. Consequently and as one managerial implication, satisfaction measurement and management systems should be reflected more critically by blood donation centres in order to increase blood donations in the future. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.