Step Up and Stand Out By Giving Back to the Community


With all the juggling we do every day it is very easy to forget about our responsibility to participate and contribute to our community. Altruism not only provides you with a sense of enrichment knowing that you have positively impacted the lives of those around you, but it can also help to support your business goals as well.

There are many examples of organizations that support activities in your community. These include the Kiwanis Club, the Lions Club and CancerCare. There are also a wide variety of causes specifically geared toward the optical community. For example, many practices and eyecare and eyewear providers participate in the annual World Sight Day sponsored by Optometry Giving Sight. Some practices support their own causes such as Crown Vision which sponsors Kids Vision for Life to provide free vision screenings, free eye exams, and free eyeglasses to children in the St. Louis Public School System.

I personally joined the Kiwanis Club because their focus is very close to my own. They place kids as a top priority, and they have a Safe Haven for Kids Zone program as well. With the Kiwanis, we feed the homeless and give out turkeys to those in need for Thanksgiving. Furthermore, they provide scholarships for kids and send less fortunate kids to Kiwanis Camp each summer.

Get All of Your Locations Involved
The Kiwanis is just one group; there are many organizations that will provide you with the ability to support local programs. The point is to participate. Let the managers of each of your locations go to meetings, get involved and make it a part of your company mantra. Adopt a program that is supported by your entire team every day. Assign leaders to both train your teams and implement strategies that support the program you've selected. They can be your in-house community advocates.

Another big perk is that your location managers will meet all the local business owners, politicians, school principals and bank managers. After going to monthly meetings, most of these folks became our patients, and the referrals are tremendous.

Set up a plan to inform your patients using promotional materials, social media and your website. Ask them to help you achieve your goals as well. You will be amazed at how much folks would love the opportunity to join in, not to mention the appreciation they will have for you and your team.

One way to provide community service is through an event. You can join a large fundraising event such as the Pan-Mass Challenge or a local CancerCare bike ride or walk. Recently there was a bike ride from Boston to New York City over a weekend. Many teams were created, and many companies sponsored the teams. Teams can be as little as five people or as large as hundreds. You can set up your own team of riders and/or collaborate with some of your patients to join your team too. The more locations you have, the larger your team can be. The more the merrier!

Choosing a Cause That's Right for You
Every year, non-profit organizations solicit companies hoping to obtain much needed funding to help others. Many businesses are willing to give but are often confused as to which causes are best.

Here are some quick tips for helping your business choose the right charities to support:

  • Understand your business' values. Start with your mission statement. Use this to assess the connection between your practice and a charity.
  • Who else is donating? Find out from your staff and patients which causes and non-profits they support. Identify what is important to them.
  • Determine the charity's impact potential. Consider certain factors such as the size of the charity, the age of the organization and whether the charity will do its work locally, nationally or internationally.

Get the Word Out
Once you choose an organization, get the word out to the community. Not only will it help with fundraising, but it will also let the community know what you're doing.

Social Media

  • Facebook: Each week, post the latest update on someone's training. Include pictures. Let everyone know how close you are to the goal.
  • Twitter: Post updates leading up to the event and on the day of the event.
  • Blog: Each week, write about a new employee or patient and their connection to the cause.
  • Website: There should be a new page on your website and a link on the homepage pointing your patients to information about what you're doing for the community and how they can get involved and even join your team.

In Office

  • Design a donation box to have at your front desk, waiting areas and or dispensing and check-out stations. After you adjust their glasses or change their nose pads many patients ask, "How much do I owe you?" Typically there is no charge, but instead, you can say, "We're supporting cancer research; feel free to donate some change into the jar."
  • Dollar Match? Have your staff trained to let patients know about your initiative, and let them ask for one dollar to be added to their statement. (Program it into your computer.) Be sure to let patients know that you are going to match every dollar!

One very creative way an office raised money and created a huge dose of goodwill was by creating a cure cancer frame board. The frames with a pink ribbon were free with the purchase of lenses as long as they made a donation to the cause. It could be as little as $1.00. Surprisingly, many patients were very generous and actually gave more than the frame would have sold for in the first place. Talk about a relationship builder!

If you don't want to sponsor an event where your employees, managers or family members attend, another good option is to donate frames and lenses. Explore organizations that provide food and clothing to the needy and join in with a quarterly event to provide an examination and basic frame and lenses. Provide refreshments and gifts, take pictures to celebrate and post them to your social media and website.

I am sure we can all resource worthwhile local community needs to support. There are no shortages of these…only shortages of those who support them. Get in touch with your local politicians and find out what difficulties the community is having. Collaborate with them and adopt a cause. Getting involved is personally rewarding on so many levels. As a multi-location business, your ability to have an impact is tremendous, not to mention establishing yourself as a trusted and respected business resident of the community.


Jay Binkowitz, optometric business consultant, is chief executive officer and president of GPN, exclusive provider of The EDGE.




Evan Kestenbaum, MBA, is chief information officer of GPN, Exclusive Provider of The EDGE. Contact Jay and Evan directly at