Episode 213 | Increasing your Practice’s Social Impact with Camesha Jones
WITH Camesha Jones
- Episode 213 | Increasing your Practice’s Social Impact with Camesha Jones 00:00
Hey Group Practice Listeners! Do you want to give back to your community? As we are agents to make people feel better about their lives, it is a natural thing to desire goodness not only for our clients but also for as many individuals as possible.
We are grateful to have Ms. Camesha L. Jones, the Founder of Sista Afya Community Wellness. She is a social worker that aims to have an impact on a specific niche of the community which is black women with their mental health. With that, she will be inspiring us in creating a social impact that is also agreeable to the group practice’s capabilities.
When did Camesha’s non-profit arm for the community start social impact investing?
What are the similarities and differences between profit and non-profit organizations in terms of marketing?
How challenging is the process of adding a non-profit branch to practices that have goals for social impact?
What are the other ways to still serve social impact bonds with the community?
How will listening to your community’s needs help you best serve them?
To connect with Ms. Camesha L. Jones:
Check out her community at https://www.sistaafya.com/our-team,
Instagram accounts https://www.instagram.com/sistaafya/?hl=en
Reach her through her email at [email protected]
This episode is sponsored by TherapyNotes. TherapyNotes is an EHR software that helps behavioral health professionals manage their practice with confidence and efficiency. I use TherapyNotes in my own group practice and love its amazing support team, billing features, and scheduling capabilities. It serves us well as a large group practice owner.
Do you ever wish for a financial therapist who could relieve you from the last few months of bookkeeping, talk you off the edge when you’re running into issues with Quickbooks, or help you work through a profit plan for growth? GreenOak Accounting does just that! GreenOak Accounting is an accounting firm that specializes in working with group practices. Their value goes WAY beyond bookkeeping; they can help you get on track for financial success. Schedule a free consultation by going to http://greenoakaccounting.com/tgpe
Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Group Practice Exchange Podcast. This week I have another Chicago Local, and that always makes me so excited when I get to virtually meet people who are near me and doing amazing work in the city where I live. And so this week I have Kamisha Jones, and we’re gonna be talking about increasing your practices social.
And she’s got such a wealth of knowledge. I’ve been following her business for a few years now and they’re just doing amazing work, not only in Chicago but nationally, um, because of their visibility. And so I’m excited to have you on and I really am appreciative of you taking the time to come on and chat about social impact and how to increase that within yours.
Thank you so much for having me. And it’s like you said, it’s always great to connect with the Chicago locals. Yeah. Mm-hmm. So for those who might not know you in my audience, can you give us a little snippet of who you are and what you do? Hi everyone. Uh, my name is Kamisha Jones and I am a licensed clinical social worker.
Um, and I started my business in 2017. I can’t believe this year’s mark, six years. I’m like, oh my gosh, where’s the time going? Yep. Uh, but I started my business in 2017. This an off the community mental wellness, and our focus was providing community support to black women. who were in their young adult years, in their twenties and thirties, living with mental health conditions.
And so that was the start of our business. So our business kind of had a social impact focus from the beginning, and we found that. In our business, there were women who were really interested in mental healthcare, but the cost was a barrier. So we started offering some of our services at a lower cost. But we found out that even though we were doing that, and a lot of practices not, weren’t necessarily adding a social impact focus to their business, there was still so much more that was needed, that even though we were offering the lower cost, there were still people who couldn’t even afford.
And so in thinking about responding to our community’s need, I was like, okay, I went to school for social work. I have a business mentor. I think we can take this a step further and add a nonprofit. So in 2020, we added Safia Community Care. And with that nonprofit, all of our services are free, and we provide culturally and gender-responsive care.
and since 2020, even though we’ve only been two years old, we’ve already served over 500 women in Chicago, so we’ve definitely grown a little quickly as a nonprofit, but I think it’s just been beneficial to expand our focus and our mission to really be inclusive of all people who are seeking support with their mental.
Yeah, I feel like it’s one of the conversations that my leadership team has at every one of our meetings, and it’s just a part of how we communicate with any decisions we’re making in our business is looking at it through an anti-oppressive lens and like where might we be missing or dropping the ball when we’re thinking of adding a new service or changing a policy or procedure.
But one of the things that we’ve been talking about recently, Like how we can be sustainable when making decisions around either having therapists be able to cause we salary everyone. So the impact is only on the business versus practices that are commissioned or hourly whereas like the impact might of seeing no clients for no cost or low cost would impact maybe both the therapist in practice.
For us it’s just, it would just impact the practice of looking at like, how can we. Serve more people in the community that can’t afford therapy services or can’t, you know, get to an office, you know, all of these things without compromising sustainability and the ability to like, Pay bills and pay payroll.
And it’s an ongoing conversation we have, um, especially as a practice that pays on the higher end to clinicians. We have a much lower, we have a very small profit margin, and so it provides us with very little movement to be able to make, um, on those ends. Um, but one of the things that have been talked a lot about is.
Like how does a nonprofit potentially be able to support business A, the group practice in being sustainable while still being able, being able to offer, uh, free services and be able to pay the people who are offering those free services. So I’d love to get your sort of thoughts on what was the process like of creating the nonprofit arm, but then how do you think that impact has been on you or your business?
By being able to offer those free services through the nonprofit versus maybe having done it through your actual group practice. So the nonprofit, it’s a process. Like if you’re gonna add a nonprofit arm, it’s definitely a process. I would say it took us maybe about six. To a year to officially get things off the ground.
And with a nonprofit, there are some things that it operates similar to a for-profit, but then there are things that are totally different, like having a board of directors, having a staff infrastructure, reporting to your funders and your donors about how you’re using the money, and then building relationships with donors, which is something that is a continuous process.
Wow. So I didn’t even think about that. That aspect of it. So that’s definitely a big difference between a for-profit business where you can make decisions without needing to report to anyone versus relationship building with funders. Is that a hard process? I feel like, I guess I’m asking it because I’m introverted.
Marketing has never been my strong suit. The idea of. Needing to nurture relationships with people that are bringing in money or is this just my thing? But how do you reconcile the feeling maybe of like, I’m nurturing this relationship cuz you’re giving me money versus like, I’m nurturing a relationship because I like you and I care about you?
Is that hard, or is that just part of nonprofit business ownership? Um, I would say it is just a part of nonprofit business ownership. There are definitely some funders that we have. I have a really strong relationship with like, I just like them as people. , they like us, you know, like myself and my team.
And then there are some that you always just have to maintain a relationship with and it helps in the future. So one thing that we do is we do a mid-year and the end of the year impact report. So whenever that report comes out, I’m emailing donors saying, Hey, this is the impact of what you. given to us and being transparent also on social media and in our email marketing, like, this is what we’ve been able to accomplish because of you.
Yeah. And your support. So it’s definitely a different hat to wear for sure. Yeah. I’m still learning so much in terms of how to not just run a nonprofit, but also how to communicate what you’re doing to people who want to give and want to support. Yeah, and it seems like it’s just a very different way of communicating.
Then it would be in your own group practice. Right. And so it’s, it definitely is probably such an intentional hat that you have to take on and off to remember, to be extra transparent in the, uh, nonprofit arm. That might not come naturally, right? Impact reports and things like that might not come as naturally in your group practice.
So that’s really interesting and probably something that a lot of people who don’t have a nonprofit aren’t even thinking about. So you decided to build this nonprofit arm specifically because you wanted to be able to support black women in the Chicago area community who couldn’t afford reduced rates, right?
To be able to offer free service. Is that all the numbers? Yes, that’s correct. Mm-hmm. And what has that, that specific part of the process, not just the building of the nonprofit, but just then, once it was built, I guess my question is so big, so an answer it as. Largely or small as you want to. What has the process been like once the nonprofit was built like getting visible in the right spaces so that the right people were able to find you?
But then also, cause I know a couple of people who have a nonprofit arm that doesn’t really generate any income were, it generates just enough to maybe give one person. 10 sessions a year, just because they’re probably not doing the marketing relationship-building piece. Maybe in a way that would allow more income to come in for them to be able to offer more free services.
I guess I’m asking how hard is that part of that process for those that are thinking, Hey, I want to. Be able to offer or have a bigger social impact, be able to offer free services and have maybe been thinking about nonprofits. I just anticipate, so I just did a podcast episode right before you on someone who wrote a book and she was talking about how everyone who wrote, who writes a book, once they’re done, realizes what they thought the process was like.
It’s like 10 times harder like you think it’s gonna be kind of hard, but like I know the information, so not super hard. And then once they go through it, they’re like, holy crap. It was a lot. Of extra steps beyond just the idea of writing a book. And I feel like that probably is very similar to the nonprofit world of like you think the hardest part is just getting the nonprofit-like acceptance.
But in listening to you, I’m into, I’m seeing like that there’s probably the harder part is the building of that arm. Then after. , right? Yeah. Yeah. I’ll, um, talk about two things. So Okay. I’ll talk about the building piece of the nonprofit and then I’ll also talk about other models that can also work if people don’t wanna fully go into the nonprofit space.
So building for us. Our nonprofit took off fast because people, we had a lot of visibility in the community, and people around the country had heard about our work because we’re so niche focused. Mm-hmm. serving, you know, black women in their young adult years focusing on affordability, and accessibility. Um, so with that, our case was a little unique because we were already known and we were able to attract people from the foundation that we built with, um, the for-profits, the Athe community mental wellness.
However, with adding a nonprofit arm, there are a couple of different ways that you can do it. There are some people that may create a nonprofit and then they may add Medicaid services to that, to be able to say, okay, we’re generating. You know, revenue, but we’re also serving the underserved or people who have barriers to care or having, you know, low-cost sliding scale services.
So that’s like one route that sometimes people go if they’re like, okay, we’re doing this nonprofit, but how are we gonna actually. Drive revenue. Another part of it is really getting to know the foundations in your area. So for us, one of the things that I did was prospect research. I was like, okay, who’s funding organizations that are similar to us and how can I get in front of those?
Right. So that was another part of it, which definitely takes a lot of work for sure. And just like starting, you know, a business, you have to build it from the ground up. So there’s a lot of grunt work, you know, in the beginning. But once you get past that part, you kind of start to get a stride. Some other models that people can do if, if they’re like, okay, hey, we wanna serve the community who has access barriers, but we don’t wanna go fully into a nonprofit.
Mm-hmm. So there are some group practices that I’ve seen where. , they may take a part of their profits from a month and then dedicate that or donate to a nonprofit. So you have people on your team that are actually like, okay, we wanna give back to our community, and so we’re gonna maybe put in these extra hours to see maybe a couple of clients so we can raise this money from our profits.
And then, To a nonprofit that’s doing work and then other people, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, and you’ve talked about pre-licensed or interns serving people who need lower costs or free services, and also Medicaid. I’ve also seen some group practice. Another add-on to their business is that they just do straight Medicaid or free services.
And so it’s two separate businesses, but one is more focused on social impact, whereas the other one is still kind of more than the traditional right private practice model. So there are definitely different ways that you can do it. If you don’t wanna go full into the nonprofit, the nonprofit piece takes a lot of work.
We were fortunate cuz we got free consulting services for a year. And so we had nonprofit consultants write grants to help to get our website, our communications. And so that made a huge difference. But for some people who are starting out, they’re like, how can I access those different things to help grow the nonprofit?
That’s really good feedback. Especially I know that’s something that I’m in, have a lot of conversations with other group practice owners who are at this space where they’ve scaled and they’re sustainable and they’re now, you know, they’re in a space of financially where they’re in a, like a safe zone.
So they are thinking like back to their, uh, value system of like, are we doing everything that. is in alignment with our value system, and a lot of times the conversation comes back to social impact and how, how they can create environments and spaces that, that their group practice at that moment might not be like allowing those people to be able to access those services and like what other things can be done.
So I, I appreciate some, some of the options that you were bringing up around either Medicare, Medicaid usage. Using interns or opening a nonprofit arm or donating a percentage of, um, your own practices, profits to other nonprofits who are doing the work already that is in alignment with your, the value systems of your business.
So one of the things that my practice was doing, and I was just thinking as before I was coming on with you, like, what have we been focusing on this quarter? Social impact is such a big piece of our, practice, and every quarter we’re looking at, uh, we try things and we look at is actually creating the impact that we thought it would.
Are we doing the right type of work for that thing to actually have the impact that it needs to have? Right? Because in theory, Having interns could be a great way to, um, support clients who might not be able to afford the full fees or have insurance, you know, copays and deductibles. But once you implement it, you might realize that it’s actually still creating barriers.
Um, similar to what you mentioned, where there’s gonna be people that if you have interns or provisional folks, You might still be charging a much lower fee, but there’s still gonna be people that might not be able to access that anyways. And so I guess my question for you around that is, what thought processes do you think are important for business owners, and practice owners to have if the social impact and anti-racism and anti-oppression if are really core values in theirs?
What are maybe some of the things that might be like off the side, sort of thoughts that aren’t easy to be in the forefront of the brain, um, until you’re like in it and doing it? I don’t know if that’s a clear enough question, but Yeah. I understand what you’re saying. Yeah. So the reality is, is that the mental health infrastructure, the field, there’s going to be more people who need services than the.
right? So we’re already, as an industry, we’re already kind of like, we’re not fully able to meet the demand. Also, knowing that like you don’t have to save everybody. What you are doing to make some type of contribution is worthy, right? It’s important sometimes, and I’ve felt this as well, like, oh, we have to do.
everybody, but in the reality, we don’t have the capacity to do that. Mm-hmm. And so sometimes people can feel guilty like, oh, I can, or maybe should be doing more. However, like if. Say for example, like with your practice, if you know you all offered sliding scale therapy to 15 people a year, to other people, they may be like, oh, that’s not a lot of people.
But for you all, the impact of those services on the client is the most important thing. Mm-hmm. , like even beyond what you do as a business, how did the person benefit from having that? So I always tell people that you don’t necessarily have. Super big. Sometimes we think about that as being consistent with what you do offer and seeing that our community and the client are benefiting from what you provide because it takes all of us and everybody can’t open a nonprofit and be in a for-profit or, and that’s okay.
Right? So I always tell people that you know what you do, even if it’s a one-time thing or consistent thing is valuable and it’s. , you actually said something that I’ve been thinking a lot about, uh, on the personal side, which is like big versus small in terms of impact and I’ve been thinking a lot about how my own group practice is really, really large and it feels like it’s its own thing, right?
You know, when you start a business, it feels like you’re a baby and you’re so. So much a part of it. Um, but the larger a practice gets where business gets the more, you know, leadership teams and other people are main decision makers. And it, um, I have been thinking about how my own group practice is so large and it has a large impact in, in a lot of ways, but I’m finding myself being drawn more and more back to wanting to have like micro.
I don’t know if that’s even a word, but like getting more micro, like getting smaller. Uh, not the practice, but like my vision or like my impact in the world maybe is like the practice is big and it may have like impact on like the scalable space, but I’m finding myself like kind of what you mentioned is like my, I think, I don’t know if you said micro, micro is what I’m thinking, but like getting small.
The impact can be on individual people, and oftentimes being able to see the impact of individual people in your, in your practice or in a nonprofit can feel sometimes even more impactful than this huge thing where you don’t even get to see who’s being impacted anymore because it’s just this huge blowing business that like there’s no way for you to even see all the impact that it’s having.
I don’t know. You, you said that, something along those lines. And I remember thinking this year, since January, I’ve been thinking like, how can I personally get back to a micro space of like really having like more rooted social impact That’s smaller, but big is big, but it’s big in the hearts. It’s big in like the action, but like easier to see, like you’re, you’re really more a part of it versus like a grant thing.
I don’t, does that make sense? Yeah. Yeah, that definitely makes sense. Yeah. Because a lot of times, I mean, when we have a business mindset, we’re thinking like, go big or go home, right? Yes. Like we’re thinking everything has to be huge. Mm-hmm. . Or when we think about everyday people, like in our communities, like, like think about the volunteers who are at the hospital or something like that.
Mm-hmm. like theirs. They’re not seen as maybe a part of this big impact of serving people who are ill or having issues with their health, but they’re small actions of going to each hospital room, you know, giving people their meal. All those things make a difference. But sometimes as the group practice songs, we’re thinking we have to scale.
Really, everything has to be big, but it doesn’t have to and it can scale, be. Yeah, and I think that’s an important maybe concept that you’re bringing up for those that are kind of spinning their wheels in a constant state of thinking without actually doing when it comes to social impact because they feel like the things that they’re thinking about in terms of engaging in social impact feel too small.
Um, or like, Not worth it. I’m kind of air-quoting it like it’s not gonna create enough impact. So maybe this idea is stupid and I should think of something bigger impact-wise. Is that starting small, something that might feel like a small, um, impact on your end, like offering one free service on your own caseload?
Right. That is a huge impact on that one person. Right. And it’s still a step and it maybe also makes it easier for you to think than even. A little bit further out in terms of social impact too, right? And once you step into it and see how, you know, how it feels business-wise and how it feels impact on, you know, business and revenue and all that stuff, that then it maybe makes it easier to see, like, how can I take that step a step further?
Yes, absolutely. So I know we’re getting towards the end here, but like, what’s one piece of feedback that you would wanna give business owners, practice owners, group owners who are really valuing? The social impact of their business, but maybe are feeling like they don’t have the creativity to figure out, what to do, or maybe they’re feeling scared of just taking the step.
What piece of feedback or advice or thoughts do you have for them? I would say to group practice owners who are maybe struggling with what to do in terms of social impact. Uh, one listening to. Your client community, you know, in terms of, you know, what they’re saying that they need, or even your admin staff.
Like what are some of the barriers that people have to access mental health services and then thinking of maybe even a pilot, like maybe you could try doing some of the things we mentioned like every person has one person with their caseload where they’re offering free services or hiring some interns and just seeing how it works.
and that could be like almost like a pilot just to see, okay, is this something that we could do? Is this something that we can maintain? And then also knowing that. The challenges that we have in the mental health field are really big, but all of us as therapists, um, as group practice owners, we are making the world and people’s lives better because they’re getting the care that they need.
And so never losing focus of that is just really, really important. And also looking to other people who are doing maybe something similar that you’re interested in. Scheduling a phone call, going to their website. Starting an email conversation can also help you to feel like what you want to do is possible.
Cuz sometimes we may feel like, oh, this is impossible. I won’t be able to do this. And connecting with other people who were also doing similar work and I’ve connected with a couple of organizations that are wanna do a similar model to what we have. And it’s just great to build that community. I love.
For those that aren’t following you, can you share where people and practice owners can see what you’re doing and be able to contribute in any sort of way to your nonprofit and also your group practice? Yes. So, um, our nonprofit website is www.communitycare.cisaaia.com, and that’s spelled S I S T A. fy.com.
Um, you can see all of the work that we’re doing, um, in Chicago. And then you can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook at CIA, S I S T A A F Y A. Always spell it cuz people have a hard time finding it. And then our group practice website is www dot sister aia dot. I appreciate you coming on, and, and thank you so much for sharing your wisdom about social impact and, and ways to get, our brains thinking about how to have that in the forefront of our minds.
I really appreciate that. Thank you. Thanks for listening to the Group Practice Exchange podcast. Like what you heard. Give us five stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra. Join the Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of training ready for you to dive into.
Visit www.members.thegrouppracticeexchange.com/exchange. See you next week.
Thanks For Listening
Thanks for listening to the group practice exchange podcast. Like what you heard? Give us five stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra suppor? Join The Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of trainings ready for you to dive into visit www dot members dot the group practice exchange dot com forward slash exchange. See you next week.
Here are the resources and guides we recommend based on this episode
* I am an affiliate for some of the businesses I recommend. These are companies that I use in my own group practice, and make recommendations based off of my experience with them. When you use some of these companies through my links, I receive compensation, which helps me continue to offer great free information on my podcast, blog, Facebook group, and website.
Meet your host
Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:
The podcast is structured so that you get practice building tips in small doses, where an episode can be listened to (and a group practice building lesson can be learned) in a single car ride.
Episodes are structured into categories: coaching sessions where I coach a group practice owner on a specific topic, tips of the day by yours truly, real talk where you get to be a fly on the wall while an established group practice owner and I talk about the highs and lows of ownership, and trainings done by experts in the field.
Don’t miss an episode! Download The Group Practice Exchange Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play and don’t forget to subscribe and rate TGPE
* The content of this post is intended to serve as general advice and information. It is not to be taken as legal advice and may not account for all rules and regulations in every jurisdiction. For legal advice, please contact an attorney.