Forging Bonds: Building a Referral Program

Building a Referral Program

The growth of any surrogacy agency hinges on the recruitment of compassionate surrogates. Of course, online marketing remains a viable avenue for attracting intended parents.  However,  tapping into a network of past surrogates and potential candidates offers a powerful yet often underutilized opportunity for expansion. Implementing a structured referral program, permits agencies to foster a supportive ecosystem that not only attracts surrogates but also empowers them as Ambassadors for the cause.


Harnessing the Power of Experience

Past or repeat surrogates possess invaluable insights and first-hand experience that can guide and inspire aspiring surrogates.  Agencies can tap into this wealth of knowledge and foster a sense of camaraderie within the surrogate community.   Don’t underestimate the willingness of past surrogates, even those from years ago, to continue contributing to the cause of creating a family.


In addition, as you interview each candidate to become an Ambassador in your referral program, consider creating personalized biographies for every surrogate. Sharing their individual journeys through blog postings or videos will add a rich layer of authenticity to your marketing efforts.  Not only does this approach spotlight the unique experiences of past surrogates, but it also humanizes the surrogacy process, rendering it more relatable and inspiring for potential candidates. Turning Rejection into Opportunity.


Even among individuals previously declined by agencies, untapped potential awaits. When faced with the necessity of declining a surrogate applicant, consider harnessing this experience as an opportunity for positivity.  Ask if she will share her story on a blog.  The agency can effectively demonstrate how she turned disappointment into an opportunity to continue with her dream by creating a family in an alternative way through your referral program. In doing so, the agency showcases empathy and support.  In addition, it  highlights the resilience and altruism inherent in the surrogacy community.  This transparent and positive approach may fostering a profound sense of trust and connection with the agency.


Nurturing Relationships for Mutual Benefit

Central to building a referral program is cultivating genuine and enduring relationships with Ambassadors.  By maintaining open lines of communication and offering ongoing support, agencies can recognize and celebrate these individuals’ contributions to the surrogacy community. Incentivizing referrals and providing avenues for engagement reinforces their sense of belonging.  In addition it may encourage them to advocate for the agency within their social circles and online communities.


Implementing a Structured Referral Program

To incentivize Ambassador engagement and maximize the benefits of the referral program, agencies can establish a structured program with clear incentives and follow-up procedures.  Begin by selecting a name for your new marketing strategy.  Avoid labeling it merely as a referral program; instead, consider names like the Ambassador Program, Surrogate Advocate Initiative, Surrogate Connection Program, or Surrogate Success Network.


Next, determine when referral program incentives are paid.  For example:

  • Upon Referral
  • Upon completion of the application.
  • Upon acceptance by the agency of the application. 
  • When the surrogate is matched. 
  • When the surrogate signs a legal contract.


How do you decide what amount to pay for the referral?  This decision hinges on several factors: 

  • What can you afford? 
  • How much revenue will your agency generate from each matched surrogate? The referral fee must be substantial enough to incentivize individuals to dedicate time and effort to the project. 
  • Would you be willing to make numerous calls for a nominal payout of $50 over the next 2-3 months? 
  • Conversely, would you be more motivated to make calls if you could potentially earn $500 or even $2,000 in the same timeframe? 
  • Consider the potential revenue generated by each referral if the referred surrogate is successfully matched in your program. 
  • Realistically, the more generous you are with referral fees, the more successful your program is likely to become.


If your agency is open to paying a referral fee exceeding $500 for a fully screened surrogate, you might explore incorporating a Special Marketing fee into your cost estimates.  This fee could be passed on to the intended parents or split between the agency and the intended parents.  


It is advisable to structure the referral fee as payments in installments. For instance, consider a referral fee of $150. The payment could be divided into $50 upon completion of the application, with the remaining $100 disbursed when the surrogate achieves medical and psychological clearance, or when the agency receives its fees.


Clearly outline the amount and timing of potential earnings to ensure transparency and fairness.  Specify whether a referral fee will be paid if the Ambassador is approached by a colleague, sister, or cousin about becoming a surrogate.  Additionally, clarify whether a surrogate returning for a second journey is eligible to earn the referral fee.  Provide detailed guidance on the actions required before a referral fee is disbursed to ensure clear expectations for all parties involved.


Utilizing Technology for Efficiency

When establishing an Ambassador program, meticulous setup of the program’s infrastructure is important.   Streamlining the referral process is paramount for maximizing its benefits. Implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system with workflow automation capabilities can significantly enhance efficiency.  This technology facilitates communication, tracks referrals, and ensures compliance with privacy regulations.


With a CRM system, agencies can track referrals from each Ambassador.  In addition it can manage information such as the surrogate’s consent for the Ambassador to receive updates on her progress. 


These options may include:

  • No updates. 
  • Permission to update the Ambassador on matching,  pregnancy achievement, birth (all or selected milestones).
  • Provision for the surrogate to modify her preferences via a form that automatically updates the CRM.


Regular updates and acknowledgments of referrals not only reinforce the Ambassador’s contribution but also maintain transparency and accountability within the program.


Moreover, agreed-upon updates can be automatically dispatched via workflow rules.  The software will verifying the consented terms before sending emails.


Additionally, requests for payment to Ambassadors can be automatically generated and forwarded to a designated employee for processing.


It is highly recommended that each agency assigns a staff member to oversee the Ambassador program. Investing time and resources in designing and implementing a new marketing program without fully maximizing its potential benefits is not sound business practice. This staff member should provide weekly reports on the Ambassador’s efforts in recruiting surrogates.


Celebrating Contributions and Fostering Engagement

Beyond monetary incentives, agencies should acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of their Ambassadors. Personalized gestures such as thank-you notes, updates on referred candidates’ progress, and invitations to special events cultivate a sense of appreciation and belonging.


Building a referral network through Ambassador engagement is not just about recruiting surrogates; it’s about empowering individuals to become advocates for the cause of surrogacy, confirming their bond and loyalty to your agency, and helping the agency grow its pool of surrogates.