At some point while raising support, you may need to expand your list of contacts. One way is to ask for referrals—inviting friends to share with you the names of theirfriends. It may feel daunting to talk to “strangers,” but ask yourself: Am I convinced people will be genuinely encouraged by hearing what God is doing through our ministry, regardless of whether they give? Yes! Every time you explain your ministry and how God is working through it, you’re advancing the Gospel. And some will give.

A tool to help acquire referrals is the referral card, which is available at (pw: navigators). Here are guidelines to help you successfully build your contacts through referrals.

Request referrals during face-to-face appeals. During your ministry presentation and funding appeal, you arrive at this question: “Would your prayerfully consider joining my support team with a monthly gift ranging from $50-$150?” After your friend agrees to pray (since most do, the following dialogue assumes a positive answer), you say:

In a minute, I’ll show you how to give, if God leads you that way. But first, I would like to tell you another significant way you can help my ministry.

I want to be fully funded by (date), but I need more people to talk to about my ministry. I wonder if you might have a few friends I could tell about my ministry. 

If you were in my shoes and needed to build a team of ministry partners, whom would you invite to be on your team? For example, are there people in your neighborhood you would talk to? Or friends at church? (Other possible categories: co-workers, businessmen/women, moms, neighbors, roommates, etc.)

If you were in my shoes, which of these people would you contact first?

Most people have not been thinking about whom they can refer you to before you showed up in their home. This is an easy, relational way to guide your friend in thinking through his/her relational networks as you write down names and contact information on the referral card.

Then say, “Just to confirm, are these people whom you're willing to put me in touch with?” Listen carefully to the answer, which could contain important instructions for you (such as who not to contact or details on timing). This will help protect relationships and assure your friend you’re not “hijacking” his/her friends for your benefit.

Finishing the appeal. “Thank you so much for sharing with me names of people who may be willing to hear what God is doing through my ministry. And if God leads you to give, let me show you how that works.” (Use the commitment card to explain giving options and conclude your time.)

Involve the Referrer. The more involved your friend is in the process, the better (even up to making the appointment with the referral and going with you). Asking your friend to provide a “soft” introduction will give the referred people context for when you contact them or a “way out” if they’d rather not meet. Say to your friend:

It would be helpful if you would call or email (referrals) in the next couple of days to let them know who I am and that you visited with me. That will give me credibility when I call them. I have a sample email you could use, if you’d like. Would you like a copy? Feel free to fine-tune it as you want. Would you also let me know me when you’ve contacted them? Then I’ll know when to call.”

Follow-through on contacting the referrals when you say you will and as soon as possible.

Taking your friend along on the appointment with the referral can be a great idea!

Handling hesitations. Some may resist giving you names of their friends at first. But with reassurance that you will “take good care” of their friends, they may soften. If not, it’s better to move on in your presentation than to push for referrals. Here are some common objections and responses.

“I can’t think of anybody right now,” or “I’d like to think about it and get back to you.” 
Often these phrases simply fill the gap in conversation, and really the person needs time and help thinking about it. Response: “I understand, and many people tell me that. If you want more time, that’s fine, but I’ve found it pretty effective to brainstorm together.”

 “You already know everyone I know.” Response: “Maybe, but I feel you may know some of these people better than I do. Some I don’t know well enough to contact on my own. Would you introduce me to a few of them?”

“I’d like to contact them before I give you their names.” Response: “That’s a great idea! Could we write down their names, and I’ll pray for them while you contact them? Then I can call you back, and if they’re willing to meet, I could get their contact info from you then.”

Do you have questions regarding referrals? Email and someone from the MPD team will contact you.


Tips on Referrals

  • Order referral cards at (pw: navigators) and keep a supply on hand.
  • Not everyone will give you referrals, but ask everyone you visit for referrals. Those you meet early on and those who seem excited and on-board with what you are doing will be most likely to want to connect you with their friends. The more they are willing to help connect you to their friends, the better.
  • Think through possible referral categories before you meet, since they can differ from friend to friend. Also, listen carefully to your friend during the conversation for groups of people they may be connected with. Graciously guide your friends through the process of coming up with names—since they haven’t been thinking of this all day long, like you have!
  • Don’t ask who would be “interested” in hearing about your ministry or giving, but who would they talk to if they were in your shoes. Your friends can’t speak for their friends.
  • Try to get the referral’s contact information on the spot. Waiting for later often means not getting the information. Write down names first, then get contact information.
  • Be proactive and persistent. Requesting referrals can be as important as the financial ask.
  • Your body language and how you ask will go a long way toward making referrals feel like a relational process rather than leveraging people’s friends for your advantage.
  • Pay attention to what your friend’s relationship with the referral is, and make note of that.
  • Write the referrer’s name on the referral card to remember where the names originated.
  • Ask referrals for referrals. It’s not cold and unrelational. You have begun the process of building relationship, and they might be more willing to share their friends with you since that’s how you got into contact with them!
  • Don’t mail referral cards expecting people to fill them out and return them to you. They won’t. This is a relational process that needs to happen face to face with care.

Do you have questions regarding referrals? Email and someone from the MPD team will contact you.


Luke DeBoer, Nebraska Collegiate Staff

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