To many people, physicians are all wealthy and of course would be happy to donate to every cause. As a small business, I get my fair share of phone calls and mail. A recent article in “Practical Accountant” tells how one large accounting firm handles the many requests they get each year.
The CPA firm featured, Dixon Hughes, is a large and growing regional firm in the southeast. They practice what has been dubbed “strategic philanthropy“. Strategic philanthropy is when a business aligns its philanthropic activities with its strategic goals. You seek out charities where your money and your time will make a difference in your community, and which fits with your business purpose. Some causes are obvious, and one’s that you must support. An OB-GYN practice “must” be a sponsor of events during breast cancer awareness month. But there are other charities that relate to women that also make sense and may be a better outlet for your money and your time. In my city, for example, there is a Center for Women (www.c4women.org) that through their “services, programs and events, we help women build better lives for themselves.” For many specialties, there may not be an obvious linkage, so look for an organization that fits your interests. As part of your marketing efforts, look for one place where you can put your time and talent to work. Some people find it in their place of worship, some in the PTA, and so on. Business groups, such as a local business association or chamber of commerce, can also be an outlet that serves the community and offers visibility for you.
Finally, set a budget for your practice’s charitable giving. Some giving is truly marketing and should be recorded under that budget line. For example, sponsorships and advertising in school athletic and cultural events, community calenders – places where your name is clearly being promoted – all these can appropriately be treated as a marketing expense. You might donate health related materials – books, DVDs, etc – to the local llibrary or public school. Be creative, and ask your chosen organization for their ideas and needs.