Issue #5: Improving Your Give Back
The United States has been the world’s leading economy for a long time. It also leads the world in terms of giving, whether that come in the form of charitable donations, philanthropy or more recently the rise of social capitalism and the “buy one, give one” movement as modeled by Toms Shoes (shoes) and Warby Parker (eyeglasses). 

Make no mistake, these are for-profit enterprises. Yet they have embraced a cause as part of their mission and are doing very well.  As described by cultural writer Virginia Postrel, today’s consumer has shifted purchase decisions from “I like that” to an increasingly value-driven “I am like that.” 

A new favorite "cause marketer" sells socks. Just socks.  The company, Bombas, was started in 2013 and did $800K in sales. The next year their founders appeared on the show Shark Tank and sales exploded. They are on pace to do $60 million this year. Yes, they too give away a pair with each pair sold, and the giveaway socks actually cost more to make as they were designed more robustly to meet the needs of the homeless.
For TeeTIme #5
What about the rest of us? What can each of one us do as an individual or as an entity to make our giving back have more impact?  We each have time, talent and treasure in varying combinations. Here are three suggestions that I hope inspire you to be bold in this area, each coming from a doctor or practice I’ve known along the way.

Replace the free mug with a gift card:   Instead of giving the patient a coffee mug, t-shirt or similar item with the practice logo after they’ve had surgery, try giving a $25 gift certificate that allows them to provide a micro-loan to a third-world entrepreneur. or

Have a Volunteer Party rather than a Holiday Party:  Take the entire staff and work together on a community project for an entire day.   Help build a house, clean a creek or something else that will make you feel good and create a new level of team bonding.

Block a regular part of the schedule for gratis work:   Whether weekly, monthly or quarterly, find a block of time dedicated to seeing patients in your practice that cannot afford to pay. Have the entire staff and even interested patient volunteers involved so that this becomes a “standard” rather than “above and beyond.” 

Capitalism and cause are not mutually exclusive but rather intertwined, and I am just scratching the surface of creativity that is out there to combine these two foundations of a free society.  With just a bit of applied energy and effort, the ability to give back– and the reward that comes with it - just gets better and better.
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About "Tee Time"
Shareef Mahdavi has been helping doctors enhance their practices for years through technology, patient experience, and better economics.

Tee Time  provides answers to specific pain points within medical practices, offering advice and solutions from companies that have been reviewed and evaluated by SM2 Strategic.