There are four major benefits for businesses that give back to the community, according to Entrepreneur.com. These businesses build a reputation within their communities while also making the community a better place to live. Employees want to work for businesses that do good, and research has shown that is even more important with today’s millennial employees. Finally, a business’s philanthropic efforts generate a network of connections. Charity and philanthropy can be good business, even though those aren’t the primary goals of giving. However, the optometrists who shared their passion for giving with Women In Optometry (WO) will say that they gain much more than they give.
Seventy percent of the respondents to a recent WO Pop-up Poll said that they designate some of the practice revenue to philanthropic causes. These amounts typically vary from year to year, but for about half of the practices, it becomes a team effort, with staff participating in some way. Donations are not only monetary, but many respondents said that they also donate professional services, with 40 percent of respondents whose offices participate in philanthropic efforts saying that they do so routinely and another 45 percent saying they do so occasionally. Five percent of respondents said that they have not been asked to do so.
How these contributions are determined vary, with the vast majority of respondents (81 percent) saying that the practice donates different amounts as needed, although 10 percent of respondents earmark a specific percentage of practice revenue for philanthropic causes. Seven percent designate a percentage of revenue from a specific event or time period, and 3 percent said that they budget an amount each month.
While 56 percent of practitioners say that patients have no direct role in contributing or voting for charities to support, 41 percent note that patients are welcome to make contributions to the practice’s charities of choice, and nearly 8 percent said that patients can nominate or request support for specific organizations.
While many practices support more than one cause, contributing to community events or service organizations is at the top of the list, with 68 percent of respondents saying that at least some of their money goes there. Local schools were the recipients for about 41 percent of the respondents, and community food banks were listed by 24 percent. These organizations were followed by sight-related missions, such as Lion’s Clubs (32 percent), Optometry Giving Sight (27 percent) and optometry schools (14 percent). Special Olympics was the designee of about 19 percent of the respondents. Nineteen percent of practices also noted that they organize and run community events to drive donations for a local organization.
The majority of practitioners, 54 percent, said that their 2018 giving will be roughly equivalent to their 2017 giving, although 29 percent noted that their giving is likely to be higher this year. Twenty-four percent said it would be somewhat higher (up to 10 percent more) while 5 percent said it would be even higher than that. About 10 percent said that they expect their 2018 giving to be slightly lower than last year, and 7 percent said they don’t know.