Lions Clubs International (LCI) is an international non-political service organization established originally in 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, by Melvin Jones. It is now headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois. As of January 2020, it had over 46,000 local clubs and more than 1.4 million members (Lions & LEO) in more than 200 countries around the world. 
Lions Clubs International, a service membership organization of over 1.4 million members worldwide, was founded in Evansville, Indiana on 24 October 1916 by Dr. William Perry Woods and subsequently evolved as an international service organization under the guidance and supervision of its Secretary, Melvin Jones.
In 1917, Melvin Jones, was a 38-year-old Chicago business leader who told members of his local business club they should reach beyond business issues and address the betterment of their communities and the world. Jones’ group, the Business Circle of Chicago, agreed. After contacting similar groups around the United States, an organizational meeting was held on June 7, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois, US. The Business Circle subsequently joined one of the invited groups, the “International Association of Lions Clubs” and at a national convention held in Dallas, Texas, later that year, those who were assembled: (1) adopted a Constitution, By-Laws, Code of Ethics and an Emblem; (2) established as a main tenet “unselfish service to others”, (3) unanimously elected Dr. William Perry Woods as its first President effectively securing his leadership for the first two years of the existence of the International Association of Lions, and (4) selected Melvin Jones to serve as the Organization’s Secretary-Treasurer.
The Lions motto is “We Serve”. Local Lions Club programs include sight conservation, hearing and speech conservation, diabetes awareness, youth outreach, international relations, environmental issues, and many other programs. The discussion of politics and religion is forbidden. The LIONS acronym also stands for Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nations’ Safety.
Lions Clubs plan and participate in a wide variety of service projects that meet the international goals of Lions Clubs International as well as the needs of their local communities. Examples include donations to hospices, or community campaigns such as Message in a bottle, a United Kingdom and Ireland initiative which places a plastic bottle with critical medical information inside the refrigerators of vulnerable people. Money is also raised for international purposes. Some of this is donated in reaction to events such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) where Lions and LCIF provided disaster relief locally and from around the world, with donations and commitments surpassing US$1 million. Other money is used to support international campaigns, coordinated by the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), such as Sight First and Lions World Sight Day, which was launched in 1998 to draw world media attention to the plight of sight loss in the developing world. Lions take on all sorts of various fundraisers to fund these projects. For example, the Dublin, Virginia Lions Club host two flea markets a year, and sell their famous Lion Dog, a fresh prepared variation of a corn dog.
Lions focus on work for the blind and visually impaired began when Helen Keller addressed the international convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, on 30 June 1925 and charged Lions to be Knights of the Blind.
Lions also have a strong commitment to community hearing- and cancer-screening projects. In Perth, Western Australia, they have conducted hearing screening for over 30 years and provided seed funding for the Lions Ear and Hearing Institute established September 9, 2001, a center of excellence in the diagnosis, management, and research of ear and hearing disorders. In Perth, Lions have also been instrumental in the establishment of the Lions Eye Institute. In Brisbane, Queensland, the Lions Medical Research Foundation provides funding to a number of researchers. Ian Frazer‘s initial work, leading to the development of a HPV vaccine for the human papillomavirus which could lead to cervical cancer, was funded by the Lions Medical Research Foundation.
Lions Clubs International has supported the work of the United Nations since that organization’s inception in 1945, when it was one of the non-governmental organizations invited to assist in the drafting of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco, California.
Lions Clubs International Foundation is “Lions helping Lions serve the world”. Donations provide funding in the form of grants to financially assist Lions districts with large-scale humanitarian projects that are too expensive and costly for Lions to finance on their own. The Foundation aids Lions in making a greater impact in their local communities, as well as around the world. Through LCIF, Lions ease pain and suffering and bring healing and hope to people worldwide. Major initiatives of the foundation include the following:
- SightFirst programs
- Childhood Blindness Project
- Lions Eye Health Program (LEHP, pronounced “leap”)
- River blindness/Trachoma
- SightFirst China Action
- Sight for Kids
- Other sight programs
- Core 4 Preschool
- Vision Screening
- Disability programs
- Lions World Services for the Blind
- Diabetes Prevention/Treatment
- Habitat for Humanity Partnership
- Lions Affordable Hearing Aid Project
- Low Vision
- Special Olympics Opening Eyes
- Youth Programs