Map image By Kristian Vangen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a short history of Lions Clubs International.

The first Lions Club was founded in 1917 in Chicago. The organization became “International” in 1920 with the founding of a club in Windsor, Ontario. In 1925, Helen Keller dropped in to the LCI annual convention. She challenged Lions to become “Knights of the Blind”. Those short words established a tradition that remains strong today. Along with Hunger Relief, Diabetes, Pediatric Cancer, and the Environment, Vision is one of LCI’s five key service areas.

Each club chooses and runs its own fundraising and service projects.

All the money that comes in must go out again. It’s a rule. Every Lions Club is required to return 100% of funds raised from the public to causes of the club’s choosing.

LCI’s charitable arm is the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). Founded in 1968, LCIF awards several types of grants, including disaster relief, SightFirst, and Core 4 Diabetes. Millions of people around the world have benefited through more than 13,000 Foundation grants, which have totaled more than US$1 billion.

LCIF earned a rare four-star rating on Charity Navigator.

LCIF’s chief source of income is the Melvin Jones Fellowship. Clubs have the opportunity to recognize achievements and contributions of individual Lions or members of the community by funding a MJF. The award is named for LCI’s founder.

Some LCIF accomplishments from fiscal year 2015-2016 include:

  • 500,000 people helped through US$9,480,060 in disaster related grants
  • 3,994,860 people helped through US$13,874,392 in humanitarian grants
  • 19 countries expanded Lions Quest through US$1,437,287 in Core 4 grants
  • US$7,965,350 in grants supported the vaccination of millions of children against measles and rubella
  • US$12,994,255 in SightFirst grants provided eye care services to more than 22,300,000 million people, improved 51 eye care facilities and/or trained 23,643 eye care professionals

LCI has partnered with The Gavi Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to further the measles vaccination work, committing to raising US$30 million.

Lions Clubs International are the global leader in humanitarian service, with over 1.4 million members in 200 countries around the world.

Sight Achievements

  • Restored sight to 9.1 million people through cataract surgeries
  • Built or expanded 1,520 eye hospitals/clinics/wards and related facilities
  • Trained more than 1.57 million ophthalmologists, optometrists, ophthalmic nurses, community health workers and other related personnel
  • Launched the world’s first-ever initiative to combat childhood blindness in partnership with the World Health Organization, establishing or strengthening 54 pediatric eye care centers around the world, 153 million children were served
  • Provided management training for 276 facilities

SightFirst investments have also been critical in helping the governments of Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico eliminate onchocerciasis (River Blindness) transmission as well as significantly reduce the impact of the disease in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mali and Uganda.

Disaster Achievements

  • Awarded a total of more than US$100 million in disaster relief
  • Mobilized US$15 million following the South Asia tsunami, US$5 million for Hurricane Katrina projects in four states, US$3 million for the China earthquake, US$6 million for the Haiti earthquake and US$21 million for the Japan earthquake and tsunami

Youth Achievements

  • Engaged more than 13 million students in the youth development program Lions Quest
  • Trained more than 550,000 educators to implement Lions Quest in school and community settings
  • Implementing Lions Quest in 85 countries
  • Curriculum translated and adapted into 36 languages

Humanitarian Effort Achievements

  • Provided vision screening for more than 350,000 Special Olympics athletes from 85 countries through Opening Eyes
  • Provided vaccinations to 41 million people in Africa for the Lions-Measles Initiative pilot project
  • Constructed more than 1,000 Habitat for Humanity homes for people with disabilities

Helping others makes people feel better.

If you would like to feel better, get in touch with us. Or read a little more about being a Lion.

Each new Lion helps us help 70 more people. So we would like to talk to you, too.