Question: Building Referrals?

How do you build referrals? Earlier this week I wrote about the building referrals. I mentioned that I have started a program where I host tours at the hospital as an entry point into the organization. Many nonprofits will hold story sharing events that they will use to bring in new prospects.

  • What ideas do you have to build referrals or word-of-mouth marketing?
  • Does your organization have any kind of program to encourage new donor participation?
  • What has made your referrals program successful? Or, why have you chosen not to have a referrals program?
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2 Responses to Question: Building Referrals?

  1. The real question is where do these referrals come from? They come from board, donors and volunteers who already have a connection with you. How do you move them to open up their network? It comes down to trust; trust that you will not rush in and ask for money. Trust that you will take time to get to know the person and make the appropriate ask at the approptiate time.

  2. Amy says:

    While we’re a new enough organization that we haven’t done any research on this, I’d guess that if any referrals are happening or going to happen, they’d be because we cater to a real niche. We are, as far as we know, the only program that focuses on what we focus on (we’re an Iranian-American pen pal program designed to increase cultural awareness and foster friendships), which gives us an advantage in many ways. Currently, we don’t have a referral program in place. This is because, at the present time, we’re actually overwhelmed by requests to participate by American students. We have a waiting list of at least 20 American kids. We do need to set up a referral program in Iran, though. We need to get a word-of-mouth campaign started somehow, which is particularly difficult when only one of the main members of the organizations lives in Iran.
    I think that, if we do put a referral program in place in the U.S., it will be a simple program. We won’t offer rewards or prizes for the most referrals or anything like that. Part of the reason is that there is little disincentive to join our program (it’s completely free), so it would be too easy for people to refer anyone they know who may be interested and get an easy reward. We’ll probably just give every member (or the member’s parents, if he or she is young) some little 2″x3.5″ referral cards with our contact info and a brochure for potential participants.

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