Philanthropy as a legacy: Interview with Sophie Lacoste-Dournel
Granddaughter of tennis champion and entrepreneur René Lacoste, Sophie Lacoste-Dournel has inherited philanthropic values. A graduate of Oxford and the Université Paris-Dauphine, she joined the Board of Directors of Lacoste SA in 2004 and served until 2014. At the end of 2012, after the sale of the eponymous family company, she decided, with her brother Philippe, to embark on a new entrepreneurial adventure by buying the company Fusalp, which she co-chairs. In addition, she is a graduate of a national theater school, is an actress and has directed her company for ten years. She is currently President of the endowment(1) Porosus family dedicated to the emergence of young talent in the artistic and sports fields. She also sits on the board of directors of Compagnie Lebon. Croisine Martin-Roland, expert in philanthropic support at Societe Generale Private Banking, met this emblematic figure of the philanthropic world and asked her about her motivations.
Croisine Martin-Roland: Sophie, can you tell us about your family's philanthropic values?
Sophie Lacoste-Dournel: My grandparents were always ready to help others whenever they could. In the field of sports, my grandfather helped bring tennis players from all over the world to France, like Mansour Bahrami for example. During the Second World War, he employed a hundred foresters in his golf course in the Basque Country to cut down and replant trees in order to avoid the “STO” (“Service du Travail Obligatoire” - Compulsory Labor Service). It was to pay tribute to their involvement that we created the Lacoste corporate foundation in 2006, which works to integrate the less privileged through sport. These values of mutual aid and sharing have been passed on to the younger generations. My involvement in the service of others and in a project that I am passionate about is a driving force for me every day.
Croisine Martin-Roland: How did the idea of creating the Porosus endowment fund come about?
Sophie Lacoste-Dournel: In 2012, we sold the family business. We had to decide quickly how to use this heritage. We created our philanthropic vehicle before the sale of the Lacoste group. There were eight family members around the table, and in one afternoon we decided to allocate a significant portion of the shares we held to an endowment fund, Porosus, which would support the emergence of talent in the artistic and sports fields. Porosus is a great tool for family cohesion: we no longer have the family business, we now rely on the endowment fund as a place of living together and transmission of values from generation to generation.
Croisine Martin-Roland: How do you get the younger generation on board with philanthropic projects?
Sophie Lacoste-Dournel: Our endowment fund was created to be passed on to future generations. Thus, its capital is perennial, and we spend the fruits to finance our projects. We organize two seminars each year to involve the new generation (the oldest is 23), so that young people feel involved in the project. For example, this month we will visit the prize-winning musicians we support at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. They play the instruments we helped them acquire. The children are extremely proud of this! When they reach the age of majority, they join the board of directors, and can propose projects if they commit themselves to follow them on the ground. But even before that, their voice counts.
Croisine Martin-Roland: Can you tell us about a project supported by Porosus that is particularly close to your heart?
Sophie Lacoste-Dournel: I love the “Atelier des artistes en exil”, which Porosus has supported since its creation. It is a magnificent resource center for artists in exile in France, whatever their discipline. It reconnects them to their professional network. Porosus brings them aids to creation, and the meetings that we organize between the artists and the young people of the family are striking.
To learn more about Porosus, you can visit the dedicated website by clicking here(2).
(1) An endowment fund is a financing tool at the service of philanthropy and patronage, thanks to the capitalization of the donations it receives. Source Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Recovery
(2) Société Générale Private Banking France is not a partner of the Porosus endowment fund. This link is provided for your information. The content of this website does not commit Société Générale Private Banking.
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