Dentistry's "clean" little secrets

May 1, 2011
Americans give at an astounding rate. In 2007, U.S. citizens privately gave $295 billion to charity. That's more than the entire gross domestic product of all but about 25 nations in the world.

Daniel A. “Danny” Bobrow, MBA

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: social responsibility, charity, cause, authentic, marketing, Daniel A. “Danny” Bobrow.

Americans give at an astounding rate. In 2007, U.S. citizens privately gave $295 billion to charity. That’s more than the entire gross domestic product of all but about 25 nations in the world. And this does not account for the “in kind” giving, that is, donations of clothing, services, and other nonmonetary assistance. My experience suggests that those in the dental profession are well above average when it comes to being generous.

Secret No. 1

Anyone who has raised money for a worthwhile cause, or performed some similar selfless act, already knows this. When we give of ourselves, we invariably get much more than we give.

Secret No. 2

Studies have shown that, given a choice between similar service providers, consumers will choose the one demonstrating social responsibility. A Golin Harris Group survey finds Americans are sending a clear message to Corporate America: Do more, be authentic, and the business rewards will follow.

Secret No. 3

In the nearly 20 years that I have helped professionals stage local events, the most common sentiment I hear is, “Wish I’d done this sooner!” The sense of camaraderie and the goodwill generated among practice team members and current and prospective patients alike is truly remarkable.

Since 1998, the Climb For A Cause©/Smile Tree© Foundation has helped dental practices across North America realize the simple but powerful truth that, when a practice commits itself to making a positive difference, practice growth is an unavoidable consequence of the commitment.

Here’s what DE’s managing editor wrote about CFAC in 2009:

... “In essence, CFAC helps dental practices follow Ben Franklin’s sage advice to ‘do well by doing good.’ Each year, CFAC organizes an event that involves dental practitioners and other industry members trekking through a spectacular mountainous area and raising money to provide needed dental care in the process. …There are many ways to participate. To learn more, visit (the CFAC website), or stay tuned to future issues of Dental Economics®.” — DE 5/26/09

In other words, doing “good” can also mean doing well.

Making it happen

So, how does one conceive and implement an effective cause-marketing strategy? Let’s look at the Smile Tree.

The Smile Tree offers practices the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of children in developing nations, while making a positive impact with patients of record and their communities, too. It also offers ways to show that you care without having to leave your hometown. Practices simply agree to adopt one or more dental projects. By so doing, they become a branch office of the Smile Tree.Currently, funds raised help maintain dental education and treatment projects in Guatemala, Nepal, and India.

Branch offices receive an array of tools for sharing their good works with patients and the community at large. Some of these include in-office display materials such as posters, lapel buttons, and floss cards to tell patients about the practice’s status as a Smile Tree branch office. Participating practices also receive press releases to send to local media notifying them, and the community, of their status as a branch office. They also receive a fund-raising page linked from the practice’s website home page, driving traffic to the site. Practices receive periodic communications from those whose lives have been touched by the practices’ involvement and generosity.

There are a number of fun and simple ways to grow the Smile Tree, that is, to fund-raise. Examples include offering patients the option of helping grow the Smile Tree by “adding a dollar to today’s treatment” and matching it, including a note on monthly billing statements thanking patients for growing the Smile Tree, and inviting them to learn more by visiting the practice website from which a link to the fund-raising page resides. As people donate, their names are automatically added to the roster of patients who give.

But by far, the best way to generate funds and grow the practice is by having a party. Because I also run a dental marketing firm, I offer — as a token of our appreciation to the branch office — complimentary assistance with organizing, promoting, and staging a successful local event.

Don’t just do it, do it right

Whatever cause you choose to support, remember that the more people you involve in your efforts, the better it is for your selected charity. In the process, you bond with team members, solidify patient relationships, and meet new friends and that is a winning combination!

Daniel A. “Danny” Bobrow, MBA, is president of AIM Dental Marketing (formerly American Dental Marketing). He is also executive director of Climb For A Cause and the Smile Tree. Reach him at (800) 723-6523 or [email protected].

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