Special to the Philanthropy Journal
By John R. Beaver
Many corporations, especially those in healthcare, share a common purpose with nonprofit organizations – bettering the quality of life for those in their community (as large or small as that pool may be). There is also a special place in our hearts for the members within these communities who are the most vulnerable, including children.
With numerous opportunities for companies to get involved with nonprofits in their area, it begs the question, “how can a nonprofit organization position itself as the right partner,” and stand apart from the crowd?
Like any partnership there needs to be a mutual agreement around a concern, and a mission to address it. California children miss 874,000 days of school each year due to dental problems, and it’s estimated that emergency room visits due to dental issues costs California $3.5 million annually. We started with the smallest patients in our own backyard. Healthy Smiles for Kids of OC (HSK) shared this concern with its mission to change these alarming statistics, by improving the oral health of children in the area through collaborative programs. While our partnership with HSK focused on the OC community, the opportunity for companies to serve is not bound by geographical location.
Do your missions match?
Looking at the BIOLASE and HSK partnership as a case study, it is easy to see why the partnership was a natural fit– as should be the case with any joint venture. BIOLASE’s primary mission is to bring the best possible dental care to everyone, no matter their age. HSK is driven by the desire to improve the oral health of children through collaborative programs directed at prevention, education, access to treatment and advocacy.
What are the clear requests/needs each partner can fill?
Once the synergy is established among both partners, the next big question to ask is how each organization can support the other’s needs. It is important to have clear and specific requests discussed in advance so that expectations are aligned, and each partner knows their role.
HSK is well-known in our community for its (RVs converted to licensed clinical units), where pediatric dentists and dental hygienists travel to over 200 partnered schools and accessible community sites in the area to offer local children professional dental care including restorative dentistry , free of cost. With this system, children treated miss less than an hour of class, and parents don’t have to take time out of their busy schedules to access dental care for their child. A visit to the HSK mobile site can include an educational exhibit teaching children and families the importance of daily care, routine dental visits and proper food nutrition.
Both BIOLASE and HSK agree that it is critical to help kids understand the importance of oral healthcare, so that healthy patterns can be established earlier in life to produce better habits and better outcomes for the future. We also believe it is essential to position dental care in a way that is not intimidating to help eliminate dental phobia or an aversion to dental care that could keep children (who later become adults) from receiving dental care. To do this, BIOLASE supplied HSK with to offer less invasive treatments to the more than 100,000 children and parents annually. Dental lasers are ideal for pediatric care, offering a more comfortable, less invasive alternative to such traditional dental tools as needles, drills, and scalpels. The trust is established between the provider and patient, which builds a bridge to better dental care in their future.
How do you get your team to buy-in?
To deploy a campaign, event, etc. it takes a village, and you can only go as far as your team will carry you. While members of leadership in each party can be genuinely thrilled around the partnership, it is the team members who are the “boots on the ground,” who must buy-in. To get your team excited, look for areas that align with employees’ personal passions. Tapping into what motivates your team will allow them to feel all the more connected to your cause, ultimately strengthening your mission at large.
For example, the majority of our team at BIOLASE could be considered big sports fans. In 2018-2019, partnered with BIOLASE which provides free dentistry for underserved kids by bringing together dental professionals with professional sports teams to make the treatments fun and exciting for the children and volunteers. In addition to exams and treatment, the children get to enjoy events with music, dancing, and games. As you can imagine, the opportunity to couple free dental care to underserved children with professional sports teams was quickly met with enthusiasm.
Who else can help?When we hear the word partnership, we think of two groups or individuals. And while this is accurate in most settings, it does not mean that the mission or support must fall only on the shoulders of those in the partnership. Instead of isolating the cause, have an open call for anyone to bring their talents or roles to get involved. This support can look like a myriad of things – media members who share the story, to friends and family who send out social media posts or offer help with parking –there’s no limit to what a helping hand looks like or where it can come from.
To help us chip away at our own endeavor, BIOLASE hosted an with HSK where prominent members of the dental community in the OC area could learn more about HSK’s mission, and the different ways they could get involved. During the event, providers heard firsthand how the services make a difference. Most notably, 50% of HSK’s patient population consists of children with special healthcare needs or disabilities, who significantly benefit from the use of BIOLASE lasers- which many of them own- that do not produce loud noises like a drill and offer less pain during procedures. Children without special needs may also feel anxious about their first time going to the dentist, and benefit from these characters of the lasers. WE are pleased to report that as expected many of these dental leaders were moved and eager to learn more, and we are excited to have a new case study on this in the future as we hope this initiative continues to grow in OC and beyond.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John R. Beaver is President and Chief Executive Officer of BIOLASE, the global leader in dental lasers. Under John’s leadership, BIOLASE’s dental and medical lasers advance the practice of dentistry and medicine for patients and healthcare professionals.