Eye Care Philanthropy
Did you know that approximately 40% of charitable giving occurs in the months of November and December each year?
According to Charity Navigator, the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year drives an accelerated number of donations through the doors of public charities. In the nonprofit community this time is known as the ‘Giving Season’.
We find that hearts are breaking wide open with generosity at this time of year for a number of reasons. Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for what we have been blessed with. This holiday spurs the giving season into action as many offer their gratitude in the form of a donation to others in need.
Then there’s the holiday spirit that encourages gift giving to others. One charitable concept that is widely used in eye care practices around the holidays is a ‘Giving Tree’. An ornament is hung for every donation made to the charity of choice. It’s a decorative way to dress-up the office with holiday cheer and encourage goodwill giving. This and other ‘gift giving’ concepts are widely utilized throughout December, whether it is a gift of money or an in-kind item, many plan their giving calendar to include something special in this last month of the year.
And finally, of course, it’s tax season! Charity Navigator estimates that 10% of all donations occur in the last two days of the year. Many give to their charity of choice at year’s end so as to make the most of the benefits on their tax return.
Whatever the reason, tis the season to be jolly – and give…
A New Year, A New Plan…
Many of us approach the long list of new year’s resolutions with enthusiasm and embrace the fresh start a new year brings! Typically at year’s end, your office calendar is still wide open for new ideas, new plans and ways to build philanthropy into your office for the upcoming year.
As you look ahead and think of your planning calendar, I’d suggest you divide the year into quarters. I’ve found that creating a definite plan and approach to your giving calendar will maximize the benefits to your staff and your community as well as ensure success of the quarterly project you undertake.
Tying these projects to a ‘Cause Related Marketing Strategy’ is key for any growing practice. The goodwill message of ‘giving back’ that is conveyed to your patients is critical in today’s marketplace. The best news is that as you undertake these charitable projects, your generous hearts will be doing good for others as well as growing your practice.
The Quarterly Calendar
To start to build your plan, assign a goal or campaign to each of the 4 quarters of the calendar year. Of course you can select any charity or endeavor to undertake but for the sake of the example, let’s use these 4 ideas to run with as a ‘recipe’ for 2016. Each quarter has a specific theme or goal to achieve:
- 1st Quarter PLANNING WITH YOUR TEAM
- 2nd Quarter SPRING CAMPAIGN
- 3rd Quarter WORLD SIGHT DAY
- 4th Quarter LOCAL COMMUNITY CHARITY
Perhaps the single-most factor that will achieve the results you’re after is to ask for two volunteer ‘Charity Champions’ to ‘champion’ each quarter. If your staff is limited you may want to ask for one person to oversee each activity, however it does provide a bit more fun to work with a partner. A person will feel a greater sense of ownership if they have the opportunity to choose their charitable project. Make it a fun process by organizing a team meeting over lunch or an office happy hour to begin your planning in the first quarter. This will emphasize to everyone in the office that this is a priority for the upcoming year.
Once you’ve identified your teams and which quarter they will lead, begin to better shape and define which charities you will support. Remember, with the first quarter being your planning period, you actually will be selecting only three projects to undertake (which makes this approach very manageable).
You’ll want to outline what the goal will be for each project: Will it be a financial goal? Will the goal be to contribute a certain number of volunteer hours? After you’ve set the goal, add incentives for your staff to make achieving the goal more fun. Incentives, friendly competition, and rewards are great motivators!
In using the examples I’ve offered here, let’s flesh out what your quarterly projects may look like for your annual charitable calendar.
There’s a lot of good energy in the springtime with the sun shining and outdoor activities taking priority. By selecting a spring campaign that features the outdoors you can highlight the need for proper UV protection. Remember that The Vision Council advocates for safe sunwear by observing National Sunglasses Day each June. You can also build your spring campaign around a number of other touch points such as the First Day of Spring, Mother’s Day and so forth. The intent is to select a spring theme and then decide if your charitable endeavor will be to raise funds, raise awareness, or give back through volunteerism.
World Sight Day
The second Thursday each October is World Sight Day. There are a multitude of activities that you can participate in to raise global awareness and raise funds. Optometry Giving Sight hosts the ‘World Sight Day Challenge’ each year and provides materials for a fundraiser to end refractive error blindness globally. As well, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness has many materials, tips and features throughout October. Check both organizations websites for loads of resources. Remember too, a free vision screening at a local school – or some visible outreach for World Sight Day – has great impact in your surrounding community.
Local Community Charity
I really like ending the year with the fourth quarter featuring a local charity near and dear to the hearts of the office staff. From food pantry contributions, to Secret Santa gifts to a family in need, to donating all the back-office stock that is discontinued, there is no shortage of ideas as to how your office and staff can make a local charitable contribution in the Season of Giving.
Celebrate Your Charitable Success at Year’s End
Who doesn’t love positive recognition for a job well done? I’m a great advocate of motivation and reward – and fun! So at the end of the year I suggest that you celebrate the success of your Charity Champions by giving out awards! Set some criteria as to how each individual or team would win a given award and then really make a hoopla by offering prizes that can inspire.
For example, I’d suggest three awards that are rewarded by time off (a half day or full day if you can spare the staff). Or a bonus amount by way of cash or a gift card is always a driving incentive to most.
With regard to award categories, how about recognizing the individual/team who: (1) Raised the most money for the charity of choice; (2) Created the most fun events for the office staff and showed the greatest creativity and (3) Was the most inspiring to win the hearts and minds of the patients or your local community. Any type of award is possible to create of course – and I’d suggest you include corresponding crowns or tiaras which make for terrific photos for your website or newsletter to showcase your staff!
Planning a Charitable Calendar can be a very unifying activity for everyone in your office to come together around the greater good. Remember to maximize your visibility through your patient outreach and leverage your Cause Related Marketing materials as visibly and tastefully as you can. Take heart in knowing that by taking the time to plan and elevate charitable involvement as part of your office culture you will have some fun with the staff, build teamwork and simply put – do something good, kind or generous for someone else. After all, isn’t that what the season of giving is all about?
About the author: Pamela Capaldi is the Director of Professional Services and US Key Account Manager for the Brien Holden Vision Institute (Sydney, Australia). She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry and an Optometric Technician graduate from the Michigan College of Optometry. She holds a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management and a Bachelor of Science in Allied Health Education. email@example.com
– Pamela Capaldi,
FAAO, BSc, MA