Most HerbalGram readers are familiar with the American Botanical Council’s nonprofit mission to provide education using science-based and traditional information to promote the responsible use of herbal medicine. There are many projects and initiatives that ABC staff develops to fulfill this mission, as well as different ways for people to participate in and support these efforts. This is the first in a series of articles that will describe ways to be more involved with ABC so that everyone benefits. Some of these topics will be developed in more depth in future issues of HerbalGram.
ABC works with its supporters and provides services through member benefits. Many who read this article are already members and fully aware of the benefits ABC provides; however, HerbalGram is also purchased at natural food stores and book stores. In addition, thousands of people read HerbalGram articles on the ABC Web site and on one of ABC’s many Web site licensees. We encourage everyone reading this to be a member of ABC. If already a member, consider upgrading your membership and encouraging others to join as well. Those who are not ABC members can read about the services we provide to members on page 2 of this issue or on ABC’s Web site, www.herbalgram.org. General membership levels include Individual, Academic, Professional, and Organizational (for libraries and nonprofit organizations). Members at all levels receive HerbalGram and research from our education department. Other benefits, which include access to more online educational resources and additional discounts on products and services, increase with each level of membership. Gift Memberships at these levels also provide further support to ABC and extend access to educational benefits to someone else.
Corporate and Sponsor Memberships
Not obvious in HerbalGram or on our Web site is the significant value that companies and other organizations receive by becoming Corporate or Sponsor level members of ABC. Corporate and Sponsor Memberships are the initial ways that ABC establishes a relationship with companies or organizations who share our commitment to high quality, science-based, herbal medicine education. ABC staff or members of the ABC Board of Trustees can help companies find the appropriate level of membership that meets their financial, business, and philanthropic needs. Benefits available through Corporate and Sponsor Memberships include: the full HerbClip™ Educational Mailing Service, access to all online resources, free research from ABC’s education department, and other direct benefits. In addition, Sponsor Members receive discounts on the licensing of electronic educational content licensing for Web sites through Herb-Ed-Web, display advertising in HerbalGram , herbal safety information through the Safety Assessment Program, educational consulting, and many other programs and services. Some of these programs will be discussed here and others will be discussed in the future. More than ever before, the positive value of membership at these levels far exceeds the level of financial contribution, and both the member and ABC derive mutual benefits.
In recent years ABC has produced an active Internet content licensing program called Herb-Ed-Web. Through this program, licensees receive quality electronic content for use on their Web sites. ABC provides all of the technical work to format the content for the licensee’s site, which can be co-branded or appear as if it is coming from ABC directly. ABC currently has 19 small and large licensees who display the content in many ways. Depending on how the licensee chooses to structure the content, their visitors can access full databases, perform automatic searches based on specific herbs and ingredients, or create their own custom searches. We can also provide individual articles on specific topics and other content that is targeted to the needs of the licensee. Programs are available for commercial and nonprofit groups, for both Internet and Intranet licensing, all with appropriate rates for the given level of use. In addition to the list of for-profit licensees, ABC’s current nonprofit Intranet licensees include the Food and Drug Administration, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Program on Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, and others. As part of their membership benefits, Corporate and Sponsor Members receive discounts on the very competitive licensing fees.
Safety Assessment Program
As an independent third party, ABC conducts an extensive literature search on a particular herb, reviews and evaluates the data, then prepares a report of the essential safety information—a Safety Assessment Report. Companies then license the Reports for a variety of purposes that might include: use on product labels or a company Web site, customer service, media relations, development of label text, product development, development of marketing materials, and education of staff. Most licensing options allow the use of ABC’s name and/or logo in conjunction with the Report. Companies interested in using this information to help consumers, potentially reduce adverse events, and potentially provide additional protection for product liability, should contact ABC for details about the program.
Some foundations, individuals, and companies provide general support on an annual basis to ABC to help us achieve our mission. These donations are used to fund the development of ABC’s educational publications, projects, and services, including HerbalGram, HerbClip, media education, internship programs, continuing education for healthcare professionals, medicinal theme gardens, educational literature, and more. ABC encourages individuals and organizations to provide general support for the research and educational work of the organization. Donations are tax-deductible and essential for ABC’s financial stability. Individuals may want to make charitable contributions at the end of the calendar year for tax purposes. Others may want to help satisfy specific needs of ABC and target their gift to an area within the organization.
Workplace Giving Campaigns
ABC participates in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) and uses the ABC name along with an alias of The Herbal Medicine Institute. This massive campaign helps every federal civilian and military employee across the world designate some of their annual charity-giving to ABC to aid in our nonprofit research and education efforts. We encourage our friends to urge anyone they know who is a federal employee, including military personnel, to select The Herbal Medicine Institute (CFC # 1220) in their next campaign.
ABC can be named in wills, as a beneficiary of life insurance, in charitable trusts, and other planned giving instruments. Many programs are available that bring benefit to the donor and ABC. Interested persons are invited to contact the ABC Development Office for details.
Volunteers play an integral part in helping ABC to continue flourishing and growing. For many years, peer-reviewers, writers, and editors have been volunteering their time for ABC from around the world. New programs are being implemented, and there are a variety of opportunities for getting involved in different areas, including at the Case Mill Homestead, our world headquarters in Austin, Texas. Volunteering and interning at ABC provides a unique educational opportunity. We have a continual flow of pharmacy and dietitian interns as well as journalism students. Although we do not offer financial support, these interns derive great benefit from their experiences and ABC benefits from their presence as well. Committed volunteers and interns receive complimentary herbal resource packets and other educational gifts upon completion of their goals. ABC is a well-respected, internationally recognized organization and a wonderful resource to use on resumes or curricula vitae.
The herbal medicine movement holds much promise for the future in helping to provide natural, safe, effective, low-cost remedies to the public. At the same time the herbal agenda continues to face mounting criticism and pressure from the media, regulators, health professionals, and others who view the herb industry as “unregulated” and herbal dietary supplements and phytomedicinal products as “untested” and “ineffective.” With the help of our supporters, ABC will remain viable and active to help correct and clarify much of the public’s erroneous misconceptions about the value and promise of the herbal medicine movement.
Whether you are a consumer interested in learning more about natural healing, a healthcare provider exploring the possibilities of complementary and alternative medicine, an educator, researcher, policy maker, or dietary supplement industry leader, there are numerous ways to become more involved with ABC. Your contributions will bring you access to educational benefits and support our common goals. To participate in any of the above programs, please contact Kim West or Wayne Silverman at 1-800-373-7105 or e-mail the Development Department or the Development Department.
—Wayne Silverman, PhD and Kim West