Though the immensity of the problem of lack of access to oral health care may be obvious to you, there may be others, including members of the general public, health professionals, local business leaders, and/or elected officials, who don’t realize that a significant percentage of their fellow community members cannot access affordable oral health care. To inform and gather their support, being able to tell the story of those in need of care in a clear, concise manner is essential. You may only have a few moments to make the case, so have relevant, motivating facts close at hand. For example, this fact sheet paints a picture of local (county) need that would be compelling enough to bring potential partners and future funders to the table to find out more. It would be even more compelling if it cited where and how the specific information presented was acquired.
Whether you are developing a 30-second “elevator pitch” or seeking to justify a substantial request for support from a potential funder, gathering pertinent data that describes the need within your community is essential. In this day and age, one can find a plethora of information online about the importance of oral health and the degree of accessibility to oral health care, yet much of these data may describe national and individual state perspectives. Although this information is important to compare and contrast need, documenting a baseline of unmet oral health needs within your local community is paramount for success.
While data is essential, putting a human face on the problem makes it even more compelling. As you gather information, be alert for particularly moving stories that captivate you. Anecdotal and firsthand stories have a place in telling the story and getting the attention of others. It is a balancing act; both facts and stories are necessary and have relevance.