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Washington State Dental Association


The Washington Oral Health Foundation is now the Washington State Dental Association Foundation, or WSDAF.

The WSDAF been undergoing some dramatic changes in the way it will function as a Foundation going forward. Here's what you can expect.

    For years, the Washington Oral Health Foundation (WOHF) struggled to provide a robust list of services across the state. And while its intentions were honorable, WOHF lacked the funding, volunteers, and staff resources to make its long list of services a reality. 
    At once too small and too large, WOHF needed an overhaul. As we outlined in the WSDA News last May, the process began with an anonymous survey sent to 107 people, and led to a strategic review and planning process that culminated in series of recommendations aimed at making the foundation something worthy of respect both within and outside the dental community. More pragmatically, the work being done by the new foundation would have to be valuable enough for the dental community and corporate sponsors to rally behind and fund. Recently, the foundation board made significant and decisive moves in determining the work the foundation will do, and we’re excited to share this news with you.

Back to basics
    In a bold move, all of the former foundation’s programs were scuttled, except for the Adopt-A-School and Children’s Referral programs. At that time, the board made sweeping changes based upon recommendations from the strategic planning process. First up: changing the name of the organization from the Washington Oral Health Foundation to the WSDA Foundation, or simply “the foundation.” As we reported in May, the name alone stymied fundraising efforts, and confused both WSDA members and the public, who weren’t aware of the connection between WOHF and the WSDA. Additionally, the foundation board voted to adopt a purpose statement for the organization, “Improving lives through dental health,” and determined three strategic goals for the foundation: awareness; collaboration; and education. 
    But the name change is the least of what is happening with the foundation. From structure to mission to composition, this is a grand overhaul, designed to make a difference in the state immediately.

Stronger collaboration with component societies
    One of the most exciting recommendations to come out of the strategic planning process was to expand participation in the board to include representatives from component society foundation boards and other stakeholder groups. The foundation is in the process of recruiting leaders from component society foundations to serve on its board of directors. By including representation from the component society foundations, the WSDA Foundation hopes to dispel any notion that it and local dental society foundations are in competition with one another, which had been an issue in the past. The WSDA Foundation hopes to collaborate with local dental societies in order to better serve those in need. Stay tuned for announcements on the WSDA Foundation board of directors very soon.

Fundraising and expenditure changes
    The WSDA Foundation board of directors has taken substantial actions to simplify the foundation’s financials. On the expense side, costs of staffing the foundation’s work and all other administrative costs have been shifted to WSDA. This means that, going forward, every dollar donated to the WSDA Foundation will go towards specific initiatives tied to the foundation’s mission and not towards any administrative expense. Fundamentally, the WSDA Foundation is shifting away from a staffed, “working foundation” model and towards a “granting foundation” model that will make strategic investments in communities across the state.
    The foundation’s board has also decided to discontinue the annual Phoneathon. Bracken Killpack, WSDA’s executive director explained, “The Phoneathon served a purpose for WOHF in the past but, ultimately, we believed it had run its course. Considerable volunteer and staff time was spent on the event, and many felt it was in direct competition with the fundraising efforts of local dental societies. Eliminating this fundraising campaign will allow the foundation to focus more on collaboration.” For now, the foundation will continue to collect contributions from the annual dues statement and corporate contributors. Eliminating all administrative costs from the budget will allow the foundation to simply spend whatever is raised on worthwhile programs. Continued thought will be given to the long-term funding of the foundation in the years ahead.

Shifting from children to adults
    In its discussions about changing from a working foundation to a granting foundation, the board knew that the WSDA Foundation would need to focus on one or two things, and do them well. Because of that, it made sense for the foundation to shift from providing programs that served children to funding programs serving adults, particularly Medicaid-eligible adults. For one, there are many programs across the state serving the dental needs of children. It is largely accepted that in Washington, children are well covered, but additional work is needed for vulnerable adult populations. “By focusing on barriers to care for adults, the WSDA Foundation will be better aligned with the strategic objectives of the WSDA overall,” explained Killpack. “The WSDA Foundation can make investments in our dental safety net that support and enhance the Association’s advocacy efforts in Olympia. For example, instead of simply talking about the importance of dental residency programs as a tool to improve access for vulnerable adult populations, we can now put our money where our mouth is and make investments that create new residency programs where they are needed the most. The WSDA Foundation will help organized dentistry be more proactive in developing solutions that reduce barriers to care for the most vulnerable.”

Showcasing the good works of dentists
    Going forward, the WSDA Foundation intends to take a leading role in showcasing the good works that dentists do individually and in partnership with community organizations. Preliminary work on a common, charitable care brand that can be used by all charitable care programs in the state has begun. “A brand can help unify the good work that many individuals and organizations do separately,” Killpack explained, “This unification can demonstrate that collective action is being taking by the dental community to mitigate the barriers to care that currently exist in the dental safety net.” The foundation does not intend to take control of or credit for the work done by other organizations. Instead, the foundation intends to steward a brand that is available for use by many organizations and help document the actions and successes of all parties. The WSDA Foundation is seeking advice from WSDA, WSDA’s public affairs consultants, and others on how to execute this initiative.

Encouraging movement    
    We hope that you are excited about the newfound energy and action of the WSDA Foundation. We hope that you will consider supporting the work of the WSDA Foundation through a contribution on your annual dues statement. If you would like more information about the foundation or would like to get involved, please contact Brenda Berlin at 

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