What do we mean by ‘referral’? What is ‘information and referral’?

Broadly speaking, people seek ‘referrals’ to resources that can help them meet their needs. Community resource data is comprised of information about health, human, and social services available to people in need — which organizations provide these services, and how they can be accessed. 

Some services are provided by non-profit organizations, and other civic or cultural groups. Others are provided by local, state, even federal governments. All of these entities share information about their resources in different ways.

‘Information and referral’ refers to the field in which information about services is aggregated in community resource directories, and delivered (via referral) to people seeking help. 

The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) is an accrediting agency that certifies ‘information and referral’ providers throughout North America. AIRS promotes official standards for ‘information and referral’ services, ranging from operational standards to data standards. AIRS has collaborated with the Open Referral Initiative from its inception, and in 2018 AIRS formally endorsed our protocols as industry standards for interoperable resource data exchange. 

Posted in: Overview, Strategic Questions