After fleeing war in Egypt with his family, Dominique Lyone, Founder of Lyone Foundations, has settled in Australia and found his passion – helping those in need. F&P discovers how the Lyone Foundation is supporting underprivileged Australians.
Established in 2013 by Dominique Lyone, the Lyone Foundations’ aim is to pay forward the help that Australian charities awarded the Lyone family upon their arrival to Australia.
The Lyone Foundation’s current goal is to gather as many funds as possible to improve the lives of marginalised Australians, with a particular interest in “refugees, Aboriginal communities and children facing tough times” says Lyone.
Dominique Lyone also runs and owns the office supply company, COS. 15% of the annual profits generated from COS fund the grants Lyone Foundation donates to Australian charities every year. This system has so far managed to raise $3 million since 2013, when it was first established.
The foundation is striving toward having a pool of funds large enough to be able to donate $1 million in grants annually to Australia’s most deserving charities.
F&P spoke with Founder, Dominique Lyone about how the Lyone Foundation uses grantmaking and how other companies can improve their strategies.
Tell us about your grantmaking.
Our donation selection is project based, where the impact of our donations can be directly measured. The majority of our donations are selected by members of the board of the Lyone Foundation. A nominated set of funds is also allocated for the COS staff (we have over 350 staff) to decide on its best use. While there are many fantastic charities that can be supported in Australia our focus will be charities that receive minimum government funding and also have a focus on keeping their administration costs low – maximising the impact of each donation dollar.
In what ways has your grantmaking evolved over time?
We established the foundation in 2013 and quickly realised we would need to find a way to involve staff so they could better connect to the benefits of the foundation. We started with an annual voluntary committee made up of 5 staff members from multiple areas of the business that would have the responsibility to donate $50,000 of foundation money to the charities of their choice. Then after a couple of years we expanded the staff involvement and gave every staff member a $100 vote to the one of committee nominated charities. It was a huge success and the staff loved it.
What are the main ways you distribute the funds?
The number of charities we support each year fluctuates depending on the size of the projects that we support. Typically, we will support one major project, the staff will then settle on three charities with projects that meet the objectives of our foundation. Below are three charities our staff committee selected and wider staff voted on earlier this year.
The Gold Foundation
The Gold Foundation provides support for young people with Asperger Syndrome and their families by giving them the support and skills to live full lives. In July 2017 COS staff contributed $19,000 towards facilitating a bi-annual social skills program for kids, run by The Gold Foundation. The sessions will focus on core education and social boundaries and will provide one-on-one learning opportunities and mentoring for both the child and family.
Feel the Magic
Feel the Magic runs Australia’s leading grief education and support program ‘Camp Magic’, for children who have lost a parent, sibling or legal guardian. It is a safe place to explore and understand their grief with peers who share a similar experience, allowing them to flourish despite their loss. The $19,000 donated by COS staff in July 2017 allowed 19 kids to attend the ‘Camp Magic’ program at no cost to their families.
Soldier On provides valuable services and support to veterans and their families, helping them to re-adjust to life out of the Defence Force. Specially designed workshops are held for veterans and their families to help them identify and deal with any physical or mental issues. The workshops help them to succeed by learning coping strategies and assisting them to reconnect with their families and loved ones. The $19,000 donated by staff in July 2017 will allow these veterans and their families to attend these events at no cost.
What are your top tips for fundraisers who are seeking grants?
Focus on the direct impact of your work and how the funds would make a difference. The actual challenges your charity tackles are important but focus more on what you hope to achieve and what the results would be achieved with funding.
In what ways do you consider your grantmaking to be successful?
The biggest judge of success is to see the impact of your work on people’s lives. If you can see that the money has been put to good use and made a difference then it is a success.
For details about the Lyone Foundation visit lyonefoundation.com.au.