In an interview with my Social Practice, one dentist by the name Dr Craig Spodak said, “I do believe that the ultimate purpose of a business is to provide compassion, trust, love… We’re not in business just to make money; money is the effect of doing something with love. Everything we do is born from wanting to create a sense of community, whether that community is within our office or the community that we serve.”
Well, has your dental practice been striving to make a difference in the community, especially during these COVID-19 times? Perhaps you have organized some charitable activities, and you are still wondering what to do next.
Without a doubt, we all have a role to play during a crisis or pandemic. We can all be helpers. And as dental businesses, this is no less of a duty. In fact, as a dental practice owner, taking a proactive approach to community engagement will not only benefit your immediate community but also boosts your team’s morale.
In this article, we will highlight some benefits that come with volunteering and participating in charitable events. Most importantly, we will also explore a few tips dental offices can utilize to give back to the community.
How charity and volunteering benefits dental practices
Like we have already mentioned, today, businesses all over the globe incorporate volunteerism and community service at the core of their strategy. This is not only because it is the appropriate thing to do, but because of the considerable benefits, it brings to its employees, operations, and the bottom line.
Here are more specific benefits that result from integrating community service into your dental business strategy.
Increase visibility among potential clients
When your dental practice is active in the community, you do much more than just increasing awareness of your brand (although it does that, too). Giving back to the community, implicitly communicates to the public that their patronage of your dental business, in part, supports such commendable activities.
This improved understanding of what their money supports can make a difference in patients choosing your clinic or a competitor. Did you know that most people, especially the millennial generation, prefer organizations with environmentally and socially responsible business practices?
Create and deepen community connections
Volunteering and partnering with reputable nonprofit organizations is an incredible way to build positive, public visibility for your dental office. It also provides fresh opportunities for you and your staff to create networks and relationships with influential organizations and individuals.
In short, community service positions your dental practice as a leader while boosting goodwill towards your operations — both among the local prospective clients and community influencers.
Improves employee engagement and satisfaction
A dental office that values social responsibility and volunteerism is generally a great place to work. See, the team-building that is linked to a day of community service is tricky to replicate in any other setting.
One research showed that 67% of employees opt to work for an organization that contributes to the greater good. Another study also revealed that community involvement by an organization leads to increased employee retention and satisfaction.
These benefits are even amplified when your team has a say in how and where your dental office directs its volunteer efforts and charitable investments.
Ideas on how dental practices can serve the community
There are different ways dental practices can support the community. Try out some of these ideas as part of your community service:
Donate your dental services
There are thousands of people in your neighborhood that can’t afford quality dental care — and you can help! Donating 100% or a part of your treatment costs to a relevant charitable organization or course can be a perfect way to achieve this.
For instance, if you are a pediatric dental clinic, you can partner with organizations that focus on kids. You can pick a single course to donate to or switch it up quarterly or yearly.
Consider having a range of options and letting your loyal patients pick the organization/course their treatment costs contribute to. For example, Texas-based practices can consider partnering with organizations like the Capital Area Dental Foundation (CADF). This is a not-for-profit organization that connects volunteer dentists with residents of the Central Texas community who require dental care the most.
You may also have heard about the Texas Mission of Mercy (TMOM). This is a mobile dental service that tours around the state of Texas providing free basic oral care to residents with limited resources or access to care.
Organize free dentistry days
If you can, consider organizing free dentistry days at your office to help the underserved in the community. One popular organization, Dentistry from the Heart, helps dental professionals and practices across the nation organize their own free dental events.
Also, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation too has the Give Back a Smile program that helps restore the smiles of people who have had dental injuries caused by sexual assault or domestic abuse.
If you wish to try organizing and hosting a dentistry free event on your own, here are some handy tips:
- Set a date, determine what services you will provide, and the age-range of patients you will attend to
- Find a spacious spot in or around your premises where you can hygienically and safely see patients. Remember, social distancing is highly encouraged currently. Get some insights from this free COVID-19 safety handout for dental practices.
- Solicit additional volunteers from your personal and professional networks, including other hygienists, dentists, and administrative personnel.
- Rent tents, tables, chairs, and other relevant furniture, since most likely, patients will be waiting outside.
- Have a back-up plan in the event of inclement weather.
- Draft patient consent and information forms. Though you are offering free services, you are still legally responsible if anything goes wrong. Don’t hesitate to have a word with a dental consultant, attorney, and state board whenever there is a need.
- If you do not have enough staff, hire temps from Cloud Dentistry for the duration of the event. Usually, this is a perfect way to keep your paperwork and costs down to an absolute minimum.
- Market, market, market! Your dental marketing team should prepare posters, banners, t-shirts, and flyers for the event. Also, they should ensure the event is covered in your digital and social media channels since this is the way to go nowadays.
Donation drives for your team and patients
Donation drives not only allow your practice to give back to the community but also many of your employees and patients will likely welcome an opportunity to serve.
Some people wish to contribute more to their neighborhood but don’t know where to start. Here is a chance to give them that opportunity to help. While on that, though, keep in mind some donation drive opportunities are held year-round while others are seasonal.
For instance, food drives to collect non-perishable and canned foods can be held year-round. These guidelines for organizing food drives might help you carry out the process effortlessly. Other donation drives that can be held year-round include those for the homeless, refugees, foster children, among others. Patients and employees can bring their donations to the office as they come in for appointments.
Seasonal donations may include holding school supply drives at the end of summer, toy drives for children during holiday seasons, clothing drives during winter, to name a few. A brief research can help you locate a charitable course that pulls at your heart. But all said and done, your employees and patients will appreciate the love behind the donation and service opportunities you provide via your dental office.
Free community dental classes
Dental hygiene is something many people overlook. Getting out there and enlightening the community about dental health will encourage them to make the right oral health decisions which will significantly impact their overall wellness. Talk to them about dental anatomy, teeth-friendly diet, recommended brushing habits, and much more. Take along some goodies, too, such as flosses, toothbrushes, dental calendars, etc. Give them away when you are done with your presentation.
An opportunity to grow your dental practice while helping those in need
One of the fantastic things about community service is that there are countless ways to get involved. Think of something that fits your community needs and team culture. Identify local charities and organizations you can partner with. We have seen dental practices serve in all kinds of ways, from offering free dentistry days to holding donation drives for those in need.
Regardless of how you choose to get involved, you will be showing potential and current patients that you are a dental office that cares about people. In other words, a dental office, patients can rely on and recommend to friends and family. Brainstorm some community service ideas with your staff in your next meeting!