Dr. Joya Lyons on starting a philanthropic arm, both as part of your practice and separately.

YOUR “LYONS SHARE” project provides pro bono dental work to the needy. What should a doctor who is looking to start a dentally minded philanthropic outfit do first?
Dr. Joya Lyons: 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.

Legally, what came next?
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.

Do you have to deal with a lot of paperwork?
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.

That describes your other philanthropic project, “Successful, Confident, Optimistic, Regal and Engaging,” which focuses on STEM education for girls in underserved communities.
S.C.O.R.E. is indeed a separate entity. It’s 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.

Would you recommend that other doctors do this?
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.

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. She’s a member of this year’s Incisal Edge 40 Under 40.