The Lewis Foundation's story is one of passion and commitment, starting with a couple's visionary dream to create a society that is actively committed to nature conservation and animal protection.
We fund conservation and animal welfare programmes, striving for world shaping environmental impact. We do not accept unsolicited applications
With limited resources we concentrate all our efforts and resources into supporting a single, strategic-level, intervention, which is dynamic and complex and has the potential to catalyse systemic change. Via a process of stakeholder engagement and research we identify a priority focus area and work with multiple partners to co-develop and co-create collaborative solutions.
Our current area of focus is supporting GreenMatter, a driving force that implements the National Human Capital Development Strategy for Biodiversity. GreenMatter is co-hosted by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and ourselves.
Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Foundation is led by the board of Trustees under the Chairmanship of Brian Goodall.
• Shafika Isaacs
• Dr Peter Zacharias
Strategic guidance is led by the Relationship Director, Lindy Rodwell van Hasselt.
• Programmes, Strategy and Relationship Manager: Lindy Rodwell van Hasselt Cell: +27 (0)82 493 1991
• Lewis Administration: Carolyn Burger
• GreenMatter: Head of Marketing and Communications Chantal Ramcharan-Kotze
Current number of foundation employees: 1
Number of Programmatic Employees: 5
Asset Trust Endowment: 300 million Rand
Within the borders of South Africa
Driven by a passion for animal welfare and South Africa's wild places, Tony and his wife Lisette, establish The Lewis Foundation
Tony and Lisette pass away within nine months of each other and trustees commence setting up operations.
The Foundation channels grants through recognised conservation organisations such as The Endangered Wildlife Trust and WWF - South Africa, making a substantial contribution to a wide variety of conservation programmes.
• In the light of considerable growth of the Foundation a strategic review is undertaken.
• A key finding is that this ad hoc approach to grant making will probably never lead to the foundation making a substantial impact on any particular sphere of conservation.
• The result is the Trustees agree a process to identify a single priority programme.
• The opinions of a group of 40 intellectually athletic and innovative thinkers is sought and 81% raise the issue of the lack of skilled capacity to manage and conserve South Africa’s biodiversity.
• The Lewis Foundation takes the decision to partner with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and to employ Dr Eureta Rosenberg to lead an 18 month stakeholder based process to develop an innovative national human capital development strategy.
Lewis phases out its existing grants, assuring its family of grantees that Lewis will still be investing in their organisations through the development of their human capital.
GreenMatter brings together a network of organisation and agencies committed to addressing the need for scarce and critical skills development and lead partners are contracted to implement clusters of work and grows from strength to strength.
• The Lewis Foundation is achieving its goal of catalysing a systemic national initiative and leveraging the Foundation's limited resources.
• For this 20 year strategy to play out GreenMatter must be adopted, championed and steered by the network of partners it benefits.
• In support of GreenMatter’s transition from childhood to young adulthood Lewis are supporting a carefully considered considered organisational review that will guide GreenMatter's transition into the hands of the network of partners and supporters it serves.
• Lewis, while remaining committed to its protégé, is also embarking on a new and exciting journey - a process of consultation to assess what next is in store for us?
• We have the courage to seek out opportunities and actively shape a better future through informed responsible risk taking.
• We catalyse partnerships, foster multiple perspectives and accommodate diverse expertise.
• We believe in excellence in the pursuit of best practice.
• We strive to be innovative and flexible and to proactively adapt to future trends and needs.
• We are committed to accountable, transparent good governance.
It was Warren Buffet who advised Bill and Melinda Gates ‘Don’t just go for safe projects, take on the really tough problems.’
At the Lewis Foundation we share a similar philosophy. We were fortunate that when Tony and Lisette Lewis created their Trust, they set out the broad area in which the Trust should operate. Wisely, they did not prescribe in detail how the Trust should disburse its funds.
In the early stages the Trust funded a number of worthwhile projects. Careful stewardship and benign markets allowed the Trust’s funds to grow, and to reach a position where we could achieve something really significant.
This led to the creation of the GreenMatter project in partnership with SANBI. This project was an important learning curve for the Lewis Foundation.
We realise the need to focus our efforts on a limited number of initiatives. We know that by working with suitable partners the likelihood of success increases substantially. We also realise that not every project that we tackle will succeed.
If the project however is workable, we believe that we should consider tackling it.
Together with our partners, working on the tough problems, we believe that we can make a significant impact.
The Lewis Foundation Board, made up of the Trustees (non-executive) and the Relationship Director (Executive), oversees all the Foundation's efforts. The Board shapes our vision, sets the overall direction for the organisation and guides the strategic planning. High standards of governance and the efficient running of the Foundation are prioritised. The Board meets regularly with the Executives of the programmes it funds to monitor progress and offer guidance and support. Outside of these meetings the Trustees use their skills and expertise to serve as advocates of the Foundation's current focus area through actively contributing in meetings, workshops or conferences that add value to Lewis Foundation activities.
Brian Goodall: Chair
Brian was appointed a Trustee is April 2002 and has played the role of Chairperson since September 2010. His financial, investment and fiduciary expertise shapes the Foundation's investment strategies.
Shafika Isaacs: Shafika has served as a Trustee since 2012. Her vast experience in education, training and human capital development in developing country contexts brings valuable insights in her role of setting the overall direction for the organization, shaping strategy and reviewing results.
Dr Peter Zacharias: Pete has served as a Trustee since 2011. He is a grassland scientist by profession and an expert in strategies and systems, Pete shapes our vision and strategy, aligning it to best practice and processes.
Lindy Rodwell van Hasselt: Lindy has been with the Lewis Foundation since 2008. Initially as a strategic consultant, then as a Trustee. Her current role as the Relationship Director includes identifying areas of programmatic investment for consideration by the Trustees and establishing a network of influencers and partners to leverage the Foundation’s resources and impact.
The administration and accounting requirements of the Foundation are conducted pro-bono out of Brian Goodall’s home office