Guest Blog on Sarana’s first membership drive – Oct 2014

From Pam Chang, POCA BOD member volunteer:

This fall was our first 'official' participation in a POCA membership drive. Other years, we've only made an effort to re-enroll our reception volunteers during membership campaigns. This year, spurred by my role as a POCA board member and inspired by Lisa's claim that WCA's usually-lackluster October numbers jumped significantly the first time WCA participated in a membership drive, we decided to 'officially' commit to the drive.

We took a look at the POCA Memership Drive materials and picked out what seemed fairly easy for us to do. We offered $10 treatments ($5 below our bottom line sliding scale) for POCA members and we waived $10 paperwork fees for guests of POCA members during the month of October. We sent out an announcement about the membership drive in our monthly newsletter, posted notices in the clinic, and set up a procedure for receptionists to promote the drive and record POCA members. Because we don't have a computer at Sarana that clients can use, we directed them to join POCA on their own and either forward us an e-mail of their “Welcome to POCA” letter or bring in a hard-copy showing proof of membership.

As of October 10th, we've had about a dozen clients come out of the woodwork to join POCA. These are people who have been longterm Sarana clients but who may have been coming only intermittently. They aren't people who I guessed to be joiners or even to have an extra $25 of discretionary funding. While probably half of them were drawn by the $5/treatment discount, I feel that they all genuinely wanted to support the wider world of Community Acupuncture.

For us, the benefits are so far subtle but cheering. It's too early to tell yet how our overall clinic numbers are affected. Already, we are experiencing an up-tick in October appointments compared with September, but this is typical for us. More, I — and now our clients — have a greater sense that Sarana is connected to the larger POCA world. Going forward, we plan to use our new list of Sarana POCA members as a resource, both for tapping as prospective volunteers and as an invitation list for a future friends-of-Sarana social event.

Tatyana Ryevzina adds:
I want to sign onto Pam's post and just add that I have really felt the POCA spirit soar in the clinic in the last week and a half since we announced our POCA membership Fall drive special. It has been really lovely to have an extra reason to explain to folks at the front desk about our stellar co-op and how it is forging a revolution in accessible healthcare, and how the patients play an active part of this revolution. I saw many patients' eyes light up when I explained that POCA has helped start clinics in under-served areas and will continue to do this using some of the membership dues. Several patients immediately asked me – “Where? Where are the clinics that POCA micro-loans financed?” They wanted the details, they were already emotionally invested. Having these conversations in our tiny waiting room has helped me feel the POCA connection more strongly again — having missed the recent POCAfest in Wisconsin, I have been feeling a bit disconnected from all my POCA comrades and missing everyone. We help each other in community acupuncture, we say that all the time, the patients help us as much as we help them.

We are currently going through a time of very serious research and decision-making at Sarana – we are working on creating a co-operative governance / collective management for the clinic and possibly converting to a non-profit. It is scary and overwhelming to think of these big and complicated projects while trying to run a clinic and be a punk, but then I stop and remind myself that we all have each other!

And so my gratitude towards POCA has really taken center-stage in these past couple of weeks – all the helpful things we POCA-folk share with each other – information, resources, processes, and just plain old commiserating. I am thrilled to have the membership drive provide me with the opportunity to share this other layer of community with our patients.

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  1. When I was talking with one of our front desk folks about the membership drive the other day we discussed how although the tangible benefits of joining POCA (the free birthday tx, the free tx coupons to share with others, etc.) are a good way to approach the subject with patients, that many times we find that patients want to join POCA because they support the Community Acupuncture movement- that is all of us doing something together to create a better world.

    It’s great to see this echoed around the fractal.