Share experiences: receiving word of mouth and its effect on relationships with donors

Larissa M. Sundermann (School of Social Work, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Zurich, Switzerland and German Red Cross Blood Service North-East Research Cooperation, Hamburg, Germany)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Publication date: 14 May 2018



Although antecedents and consequences for the sender of word of mouth (WOM) are well evaluated in many research fields, non-profit service research focusing on consequences for WOM receivers is limited. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to provide evidence for the positive effect that WOM has on commitment, trust, satisfaction and identification (relationship-related factors) and on intentional loyalty of blood donors. Furthermore, the role of the social reference group and the incentive ethics are analysed.


Blood donors of the German Red Cross Blood Donor Service were invited to take part in an online survey during May/June 2016. A total of 702 (23.74 per cent) blood donors, who first donated in 2015/2016, participated. The data were analysed using partial least squares structural equation modelling.


The results provide evidence that the mere presence of receiving WOM positively influences commitment, satisfaction and identification as well as intentional loyalty. The negative moderation effect of incentive ethics was partially confirmed.

Practical implications

This study recommends using WOM approaches to bind donors but first evaluating the exact consequences of provided WOM rewards. WOM is an effective strategy, and non-profit organizations (NPOs) should use this to strengthen their relationship with donors.

Originality value

The paper provides and tests a theoretical framework to evaluate the impact of receiving WOM on relationship-related factors and intentional loyalty. It fills a gap in current discussions about the effectiveness of WOM as a marketing strategy to strengthen donor–NPO relationships.



Sundermann, L. (2018), "Share experiences: receiving word of mouth and its effect on relationships with donors", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 322-333.

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