Retention of blood donors has benefits over recruitment of new blood donors. Retention is defined as preventing donors from lapsing and eventually becoming inactive. This review paper discusses literature on the importance of efforts to retain donors, specifically new donors, since lapsing is most common before the fifth donation. Studies have found that intention to donate, attitudes towards blood donation and self-efficacy (does one feel capable of donating blood) are predictors of blood donation. Feelings of ‘warm glow’ predict donation behaviour better than altruism. The existing literature further suggests that first time donors can be retained by paying extra attention to adverse events (vasovagal reactions and fatigue). These events could be reduced by drinking water and muscle tension exercises. Feelings of anxiety (in regular donors) and stress can further prevent donors from returning. Planning donations amongst busy lives can help retention, and suggestions are given on which interventions might be helpful.