Tips to create a philanthropic arm through your dental practice

November 17, 2020

What should a doctor who is looking to start a dentally-minded philanthropic outfit do first? 

Dr. Joya Lyonsa dentist who practices in Charlotte, North Carolina and runs The Lyons Share and S.C.O.R.E. with her husband and practice partner, Dr. Andrew Lyons, offers a few suggestions based on her experience. 

I think everyone was put on this earth to serve other people, so yes, I also think that every doctor should give back in some way. It’s well worth it. 

  1. Create a detailed outline of what it will look like: purpose, background, mission statement, vision and mode of mission. 
    [My husband and I] consulted with our accountant and lawyer; they suggested that because our philanthropic initiative was essentially what we did every day, it only made sense to make “The Lyons Share” a charitable extension of our practice.
  2. Make it official. 
    All that required us to do was register “The Lyons Share” as another doing-business-as name, or DBA, that we would use whenever we carry out our mission. Once we did that, all we had to do was determine when and where to give away a smile.
  3. Decide whether you’re creating it as part of your practice or as its own entity. Be sure the paperwork  and tax compliance align.  

If the initiative is within your organization and not a separate entity, it doesn’t require much compliance. It’s as simple as choosing to do dentistry for free or at a discount within your practice. If it’s a separate entity and an official nonprofit organization, then yes, it requires a lot of tax compliance. 

Her other philanthropic organizations, S.C.O.R.E. is a separate entity, an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit exempt organization.  

I started it in January 2017, just three years into practice ownership. I singlehandedly completed the 50-plus-page application to apply for 501(c)(3) status, and I was proud that it was granted on the first attempt. 



Dr. Joya Lyons, who practices in Charlotte, North Carolina, runs The Lyons Share and S.C.O.R.E. with her husband and practice partner, Dr. Andrew Lyons. The Lyons Share provides cosmetic dentistry to the underserved. S.C.O.R.E., or Successful, Confident, Optimistic, Regal and Engaging, focuses on STEM education for girls in underserved communities. Dr. Joya Lyons is a member of the Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 Class of 2020.