Give thanks and give back

March 21, 2012

This is your chance to become part of something that’s bigger than you and your practice. Today, you can make a difference in the international dental community, helping people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the care they so desperately need. And, through The SmileTree©, you can do this while growing your practice at the same time. 

This is your chance to become part of something that’s bigger than you and your practice.

Today, you can make a difference in the international dental community, helping people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the care they so desperately need. And, through The SmileTree©, you can do this while growing your practice at the same time. 

The SmileTree© funds oral health education and treatment projects overseas and provides practices with ways to ensure their good works are not kept a secret, either from their patients or their community.  

How you can help

To become part of the SmileTree, you agree to a subscription of $75 per month per clinic. Branch offices have the option of sponsoring any or all of nine clinics: three in Guatemala, three in Nepal, two in India and, starting in 2012, one in Vietnam, said Daniel A. ‘Danny’ Bobrow, president of AIM Dental Marketing and SmileTree©founder.  SmileTree is an affiliate enterprise of Climb for a Cause, a non-profit foundation that combines mountain hikes with fundraising. Bobrow founded Climb for a Cause in 1992, but decided to expand his efforts to something that wasn’t quite so limiting.

“Not everyone can climb. We wanted something everyone could get involved with,” Bobrow said. “The need is important and the opportunity this gives dentists to grow their practice is too great to limit it to only people who want to climb. This allows any practice to become involved by becoming a branch office of SmileTree.”

How it grows your practice

Patients like to know their dentist is involved with supporting worthwhile causes, Bobrow said. Studies have shown that, given a choice, a consumer will choose a company demonstrating social responsibility over one that doesn’t.  AIM Dental Marketing (ADM) makes it easy for you to share your involvement with SmileTree© at no cost.  Because of your status as a branch office, ADM helps you with your cause-related marketing, from lapel buttons, to posters to press releases to event organization.   

All the financial support doesn’t have to come from your practice; get your patients involved, Bobrow said. And remember, because you’ll have posters and information up throughout the office about SmileTree©, you probably won’t have to ask many patients about it. They’ll likely ask you.

Not comfortable with the idea of talking to your patients about this type of program? AIM Dental Marketing also provides branch offices with tips for communicating the message with patients and the media, so you and your team can feel comfortable and confident about discussing it with patients if they don’t ask, as well as with patients who do. Simply ask them, for instance, if they’d like to “round today’s treatment up a dollar to help grow the SmileTree©.” You’ll be surprised by how many of your patients will ask to round it up $2, or $5 or $10.

“It’s a soft sell and a demand pull strategy,” Bobrow said. “You’re not asking people, they’re asking you. And it’s for something that’s bigger than you. The money is not going to you. “

Get your team on board

Before you can implement something like this in your practice, you’ll want your team to be excited and knowledgeable about it. Be the idea champion for your practice and get the rest of the team excited about helping these struggling clinics. Share with them all the information that’s available at smiletree.org , reach out to another branch office, subscribe to the Leaflet, and make use of your SmileTree© branch manager (each branch office receives its own branch manager).  The periodic letters and photos you receive from your adopted clinic(s) go a long way to help you further connect with your patients.

Continue the connection

Adopting three or more clinics means you receive even more support from ADM, Bobrow said. You also may participate in a future Climb for a Cause without any further commitment, and receive preference in staffing overseas dental clinics.

Promotion for this program really just began this past summer, and already there are nearly 20 branch offices, Bobrow said. Bobrow and SmileTree© plan to have 125 branch offices by the end of 2012, and 1,000 in 5 years.

No matter how many clinics you take on to help grow that number, know you’re making a difference.

“Sometimes people express concern or ask, ‘Don’t you believe charity begins at home?’ To that I answer yes, indeed I do, but I don’t think it ends there,” Bobrow said. “I like to think about philanthropy as one might view an investment portfolio; it’s important to diversify.  And I practice what I preach. I support local, regional, national and international causes. I feel most strongly about third world countries, and anyone who has traveled overseas understands why. The level of poverty in these counties is, in most cases, incomparable. They’re in desperate need.  The good news is that, the greater the need, the greater the benefit and that indescribably warm feeling one gets knowing they’ve made a big difference in someone’s life. ”